Broncos v Dragons: NRLW Round 1 preview
Brisbane and St George Illawarra lay it all on the line in the opening round of the NRL Holden Women's Premiership at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
It couldn't have worked out better for both sides with their male counterparts locking in an elimination final to prompt an exciting double header.
The opening round of the competition is new territory for members of both sides, with some players having never been to or played at the famous venue.
With no past history between the two clubs, it is an open ball game in terms of results but plenty of star power across the paddock to ensure a competitive contest.
On paper alone the Broncos look like a team that will threaten to take out the inaugural competition with 11 internationals including Kiwi Ferns powerhouse Teuila Fotu-Moala and Jillaroos playmaker Ali Brigginshaw.
Brisbane have enjoyed a more comfortable preparation with a training camp and trial game over the past fortnight leading into their round one clash. They played in front of more than 10,000 fans last week in a huge buzz for the players as they came away with a 48-14 win over the Orchids.
St George Illawarra haven't had the same luxury with no trial game scheduled before the competition. Most of the women have relied on training sessions and local grand finals to prepare for the opening fixture.
Match: Broncos v Dragons
Round 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
While all eyes will be on the class of skipper Sam Bremner and Kezie Apps, the Dragons have a host of unheralded and underrated players on the rise. Keep an eye out for wingers Rikeya Horne and Shakiah Tungai in the backline.
Kiwi Ferns try-scoring machine Honey Hireme will provide energy in the centres, while former NSW winger Jess Sergis returns from an ankle injury in another boost for the squad.
Key match-up: Kezie Apps is well known among Australian fans and Broncos back-rower Teuila Fotu-Moala is no different to the New Zealand faithful. The pair have been fierce rivals over the last two years and will go head-to-head on the edge in Sunday's clash. Fotu-Moala was at her rampaging best against Papua New Guinea last week but look for the class of Apps to offer a more challenging experience.
For the Broncos to win: Ali Brigginshaw and Kimiora Nati will need to click once more against inexperienced halves pairing Keeley Davis and Raecene McGregor at the Dragons. It shapes as an intriguing battle with McGregor taking on her Kiwi Ferns teammate Nati. The Broncos have a forward pack and backline boasted with strength and speed.
For the Dragons to win: They need to gel as quickly as possible. Little preparation isn't ideal for the side but there is plenty of talent that will surprise. If the Red V match the Broncos with defence, they have more than enough strike out wide to score points.
And another thing: Queenslander Annette Brander was close to joining the Broncos but knocked back the club at the final hour in a bid to step out of her comfort zone. She travelled from Brisbane to Wollongong in August to set up the next two months of her life in the Illawarra region. She was named Queensland's players' player in the Holden State of Origin clash and is one to watch in the forward pack.
Brisbane Broncos v St George Illawarra Dragons, Sunday 1.45pm at Suncorp Stadium
Tarsha Gale's preview: I think the Broncos will win this one. Their preparation has included a trial match at a big stadium in front of a big crowd. Nerves will play a part in the first 10 mins of this game and the Broncos may cross the line early while the Dragons are adjusting to the heady conditions. This combined with the home ground advantage.
Broncos by 14.