Bulldogs v Broncos: Marshall-King out; Brisbane unchanged
Brisbane's 12-10 defeat of the Sharks in last week's finals-like battle was every bit as impressive (if not more so) as their clinical rout of Penrith the previous week.
They weren't able to post another half-century, but the Broncos' defensive effort against an in-form Cronulla was arguably their best of the year.
Wayne Bennett needed to see a performance like that from his team, not so much to convince him that they are premiership material but it makes his job that much easier to make his players true believers when they produce an effort like they did against the Sharks.
It was a crucial win, keeping them away from the Tigers and Raiders but also ensuring they remained in the hunt for an all-important top four finish.
They Broncos are back on the road after three straight home games and can't afford to drop their guard against a Bulldogs side coming off a confidence-boosting upset of the Wests Tigers.
Match: Bulldogs v Broncos
Round 21 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Lachlan Lewis has turned heads with some impressive performances in his brief first grade career and coach Dean Pay is expected to use the final weeks of the Doggies' season as Lewis's audition stage for next season. He faces a stiff challenge against Brisbane playmakers Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
For the Bulldogs to win: With uncompromising enforcer Dave Klemmer suspended again, the Dogs need every one of their forwards to step up and shoulder extra responsibility. If they can handle the Broncos up front an upset isn't out of the question.
For the Broncos to win: Milford and Nikorima have to take charge from the get-go and let their less experienced Dogs counterparts know their place. The Broncos should also endeavour to exploit their size and speed advantage in the forwards.
Bulldogs Stat Attack: The Dogs haven't got the wins on the board in 2018 but aren't afraid of the tough stuff. Canterbury lead the NRL in runs (3,333) and run metres (29,492) and also are comfortable leaders in post-contact metres (9,958).
Broncos Stat Attack: Despite his dangerous running game, Anthony Milford just loves putting boot to ball in general play. The 'Milf' is the NRL leader in kicks (217) and kick metres (6506), while the Broncos are the leading team for kick metres (9,978).
And another thing: The Broncos came back from the dead to beat the Bulldogs in the 2006 preliminary final, overturning a 20-6 half-time deficit to win 37-20. They went on to capture the club's sixth premiership (including the 1997 Super League title) with a 15-8 defeat of Melbourne in the grand final, with hooker Shaun Berrigan named man of the match.
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will HopoateFullback for Broncos is number 1 Jamayne Isaako
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brett MorrisWinger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Josh MorrisCentre for Broncos is number 3 James Roberts
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Kerrod HollandCentre for Broncos is number 4 Darius Boyd
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis SmithWinger for Broncos is number 5 Jordan Kahu
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Lachlan LewisFive-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Anthony Milford
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 20 Matt FrawleyHalfback for Broncos is number 7 Kodi Nikorima
Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden TolmanProp for Broncos is number 8 Matthew Lodge
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael LichaaHooker for Broncos is number 9 Andrew McCullough
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Danny FualaloProp for Broncos is number 10 Sam Thaiday
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Rhyse Martin2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam ElliottLock for Broncos is number 13 Josh McGuire
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Fa'amanu BrownInterchange for Broncos is number 14 Kotoni Staggs
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Greg EastwoodInterchange for Broncos is number 15 Joe Ofahengaue
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Ofahiki OgdenInterchange for Broncos is number 16 Korbin Sims
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Chris SmithInterchange for Broncos is number 17 David Fifita
Bulldogs: In a change made an hour before kick-off, Jeremy Marshall-King has been omitted, with Matt Frawley (No.20) to start at halfback. Danny Fualalo starts at prop for the suspended David Klemmer, with mid-season recruit Chris Smith to make his club debut off the bench. Renouf Toomaga and John Olive dropped off the extended bench 24 hours out from game time. Marshall-King and Francis Tualau were the players left out an hour out from kick-off.
Broncos: The Broncos will an unchanged 17. Matt Lodge will start the match. After Sam Tagataese and Troy Dargan were dropped off the extended bench 24 hours out from kick-off, Gehamat Shibasaki and Patrick Mago were left out an hour from game time.
Head-to-head: Played 53; Broncos 30 wins, Bulldogs 22 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Broncos won 22-20 at Suncorp Stadium in round 9
Points per game: Bulldogs 15.9; Broncos 20.8
Points conceded per game: Bulldogs 19.9; Broncos 20.4
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: I'm going with the Broncos here. They're building some really good momentum and when you're getting ready for finals footy it's all about building consistency, so this is a really important game for them to back up last week's effort with another strong all-round performance against a team they'll be expected to beat. Great effort by the Bulldogs last week but two weeks in a row might be a stretch.
Tip: Broncos by 12