Sea Eagles v Broncos: Double-header blockbuster
The Sea Eagles gave up a home game at Brookvale for a "home" game at Suncorp Stadium as part of the Indigenous Round double-header, which probably spells trouble in light of their dismal road record.
Last week's loss to the Roosters was Manly's fifth in succession, leaving their record at 2-7 and just about ruling them out of finals contention. They played with pride and went down fighting, but moral victories don't push you up the NRL ladder.
The Broncos must love the double-header concept, scoring a "road" game in the familiar surroundings of Suncorp Stadium. Any reason for one less trip to Sydney is a good reason for the Brisbane boys.
The Broncos chalked up their fifth win last week against the Bulldogs, but even staunch Brisbane fans would have to admit winning a second game in 2018 on a controversial last-minute penalty goal wasn't anything to write home about.
Brisbane still seem to be struggling to stay consistent from one game to the next and might be in for a disappointing night if they take the slumping Sea Eagles lightly.
Match: Sea Eagles vs Broncos
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Can't wait to hear the thunder clap-like collisions between human wrecking balls Marty Taupau and Tevita Pangai. Taupau has held his own virtually every week for the struggling Sea Eagles, while Pangai has left big dents in more than a few defensive lines. There's nothing like two hardheads looking to crash into each other at every opportunity and Taupau's uncompromising attitude is crucial to Manly's chances of springing an upset.
For the Sea Eagles to win: They didn't get the chocolates but the Sea Eagles must've taken some much-needed confidence out of last week's narrow loss to the Roosters. If they can play with the same spirit and commitment to each other, they're a definite chance of overcoming the inconsistent Broncos, especially if Daly Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevic brothers fire.
For the Broncos to win: If only the Broncos would decide if they want to be good or just another team jostling for room in the crowd. Their attack looks great at times and sloppy at other times. Their defence can be almost perfect for long periods of games, yet there are also moments when it looks second-rate. The Broncos need to stop teasing and prove they can put an 80-minute performance together.
Sea Eagles stat attack: Manly have come away losers in their previous four visits to Suncorp Stadium and have also won just one of their past four games against the Broncos. The Sea Eagles are 0-5 in games away from home this season.
Broncos stat attack: Sam Thaiday will play his 150th NRL game at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. He is also aiming to become the only player to chalk up 100 wins at Suncorp. Former Bronco Corey Parker was the only other player to notch 150 games at Suncorp, winning 99 games at the venue.
And another thing: Jack Bird is still yet to hit his straps in his first season with the Broncos. He needs a big performance with Origin so close. An in-form Bird would add an extra dimension to Brisbane's mostly predictable attack.
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Matthew Wright, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 9 Apisai Koroisau, 10 Martin Taupau, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Shaun Lane, 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 15 Frank Winterstein, 16 Lloyd Perrett, 17 Taniela Paseka, 18 Thomas Wright
Thomas Wright replaces Lewis Brown on the bench in Manly's only change. Toafofoa Sipley, Jackson Hastings and Tevita Funa were the other players to drop out of the initial 21-man squad.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su'A, 13 Tevita Pangai jnr
Interchange: 14 Payne Haas, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 Tom Opacic
Brisbane are 1-17. Coach Wayne Bennett's experiement with Jack Bird in the halves is over for now, with the former Shark returning to the centre role in place of Tom Opacic (bench). Kodi Nikorima has been elevated from the bench to halfback. Jonus Pearson, Patrick Mogo, Sam Tagataese and Todd Murphy were omitted from the initial squad.
Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 7.35pm at Suncorp Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 43; Sea Eagles 21 wins, Broncos 21 wins, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 20; Broncos 12 wins, Sea Eagles 8 wins
2017 result: Broncos won 24-14 at Suncorp Stadium in round 10
Points per game: Sea Eagles 20.4; Broncos 18
Points conceded per game: Sea Eagles 24.8; Broncos 21.6
Televised: Live on Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: It's been a month Manly would like to forget, but they showed plenty of spirit and fight against the Roosters despite going down by two. They are down on players, but the performances of Marty Taupau and Jake Trbojevic over the past fortnight have been nothing short of superb. The Broncos are looking for their third straight win but they need more from recruit Jack Bird, who has seven runs from the past two games next to his name. The Broncos are a good side, but Manly are yet to register a win on the road this year and after what I saw last weekend, I see an upset brewing at Suncorp. Tip: Manly by 4