Brisbane fell agonising short in a game that they appeared to all but have locked up and sealed the two points by half time against the Bulldogs last week. Only disaster could take the points away, and on cue disaster stepped up assisted by a Jordan Kahu gaff and Canterbury turned the game around in atrocious conditions. With only one win in four games, this was make or break for the Bulldogs and if media reports were to be believed, would have signalled the end of Des Hasler’s career. As they say, a week in Rugby League is a long time, and not only did the Dogs pick up the points in this match, but the win was enough to get Hasler a two-year reprieve at the kennel!
The Sydney Roosters will be a bit battered and bruised travelling to Suncorp Stadium this week to take on the Brisbane Broncos. The Roosters were involved in possibly the game of the round last week, where they were only just edged out of the contest very late in the game by a flying Dylan Walker from Manly. This game was played out in the middle third of the field where the forwards really earned their pay checks, bashing each other for a large portion of the game.
Tipped to be the NSW halves pairing for State of Origin 2017, Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary did their best to keep the Roosters well and truly in the game. Keary was instrumental in opening the Roosters account by sending a well timed cut out pass to winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall who crossed first. Pearce, did his best to ensure his side kept their unbeaten 2017 record intact by crossing the line himself. Wearing ISC Spiderman jerseys for superhero round, Pearce, possibly channelling some superhero powers of his own, beat four defenders on his way to the line. His spider sense may have eluded him later though as he failed to guide his two field goal attempts through the posts to seal victory.
Trent Robinson will need to do a bit of re-hashing the forward pack also this week, as he loses fire brand Dylan Napa. Napa injured his ankle during the game, limping from the field and looks set to spend a month on the sideline. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves again tried his best to inspire the team with his block busting runs, but it wasn’t enough to get his team over the line.
At home, again at Suncorp Stadium again on a Thursday night, Brisbane will be adding another tough assignment to what appears to be one of the most closely contested opening draws they have had in many seasons.
Brisbane looked to be headed for another two points against the Bulldogs. With weather again playing a big part in the game, points were always going to be a premium in the wet. Anthony Milford set the scene early for the Broncos, spotting the full-back out of position and kicking ahead, only to be beaten in the race for the ball by a flying Sam Thaiday. Milford showed great vision with this tactic and just prior to half-time, apparent field goal specialist Jordan Kahu stepped up and showed his versatility by this time booting a left-foot attempt over to give Brisbane the half time lead. Unfortunately, this is the only time the Broncos would trouble the scorers for the rest of the match.
In the remnants of Cyclone Debbie, there was little give and take with the only forwards to carry for in-excess of 100 metres being Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday. The Broncos most consistent backline metre eaters Corey Oates and Tautau Moga giving a reprieve to the forward pack and both racking up well over 100 metres respectively for the match. Notably, the forward buy of the season Korbin Sims was kept quiet in the boggy conditions.
Players to Watch
Sam Thaiday: All round Mr nice guy Sam Thaiday took it upon himself last year to muscle up against the Roosters pack, especially against enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. There were some great moments when two of the game’s best forwards clashed. Expect nothing less from the big man this week who will be putting his hand up to show selectors Queensland can still rely on him come Origin time.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves: The Roosters firebrand will be out to make a point this week. Waerea-Hargreaves tried to inspire his side last week against Manly but come up with a couple crucial mistakes when trying to possibly too much on his own. There is no doubting the big man’s ability and his trademark bullocking runs can inspire those around him. Fans will be looking for big body contact early in this game, with the Thaiday/Waerea-Hargreaves rivalry what many fans will be waiting to see.
Prediction: Brisbane’s hand may be forced with their line-up, with James Roberts to undergo testing of his hamstring before his spot is confirmed. Kodi Nikorima has been rumoured to be taking a spot on the bench this week to provide a little bit of attacking spark and has been named in the extended line-up. Nikorima provides a great running game and great creativity around the park. Brisbane will be in another tight tussle this week with Luke Keary and Pearce in hot form. The Roosters have some of the biggest targets in the air with Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Daniel Tupou on the wings, as well as Greg Inglis clone Latrell Mitchell. The Roosters have shown over the last few weeks that they are no slouches when it comes to running the ball either. For Brisbane to take the two points this week they will need to keep the Roosters halves very quiet. If the Broncos can complete this assignment the two points will be in the bank. Brisbane should win this in another very close game.