Returning to the winners circle last week, the Brisbane managed to account for the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos appear to enjoy competing in close competitions, which is again what they got only getting home with a last-gasp field goal to ever-reliable Jordan Kahu. The winger managed to use the inside of the upright to send his kick over the cross bar and kick the Raiders back to Canberra short of two points. Neither coach would be completely disappointed with the display as there were a lot of positives to be taken out of the game from both sides.
Canterbury were given a footy lesson by Daly Cherry-Evans last weekend as it appeared that DCE’s numbers were all coming up at Lottoland. The Bulldogs seemed to have no answer for DCE at his finest, the sort of form that saw him earn representative jumpers. Media reports have lashed the Bulldogs ability to be able to change up their attack when needed and also their lack of creativity. They have a unique skill set amongst their forwards with front rowers who can ball play at the line, allowing their halves to run the ball when they see something on. In previous seasons this has been a very effective tactic and worked well for them. Season 2017 has already seen a shift in how teams are attacking and the most effective teams so far are the ones at the top of the ladder, Trent Robinson’s Roosters.
There is no questioning the passion that the Bulldogs have, and this was on show with the likes of Same Kasiano and David Klemmer providing brief moments of spark for the travelling Bulldogs fans. Kasiano joined the fray and almost straight away managed to get a penalty with his first hit up and then provided an offload for Greg Eastwood to come agonisingly close to scoring with his next touch. Klemmer was, well Klemmer, when late in the game he slapped DCE for not relinquishing the ball. The crowd was not happy but the match officials seemed to be, as he managed to stay on the field. Notable mention for Josh Morris as he racked up his 200th NRL game, probably not the way he would have liked but a great milestone all the same.
On the other side of the ledger, Brisbane’s forwards will be laying in wait for a wounded Canterbury pack. The Broncos’ forwards will have taken some confidence out of last week’s game taking on one of the biggest forward packs in the comp. This week’s mission is no easier with Canterbury fielding a team with a forward pack known not just for their size, but aggression as well. The Broncos did well to contain an in-form Josh Pappali and Sia Soliola who both run for in excess of 100 metres.
Andrew McCullough also joined the 200-club last week and celebrated in style with not only the Man of the Match award, but also getting across the stripe in another solid display. The front row partnership of Korbin Sims and Adam Blair looks to be working well with both bookends running for 112 and impressive 161 respectively during their time on the field.
Wayne Bennett’s backs were not to be outdone, and although not a high scoring affair, there was plenty to like about what was on show. Ben Hunt is continuing to build on his form week in, week out and kept the Raiders defence guessing. Hunt also showed his defensive skills when forcing his opposite number back into the in-goal for a repeat set. Darius Boyd kept his scoring momentum going after ridding himself of Aiden Sezer before touching down. Tautau Moga, Corey Oates and James Roberts all carried for over 100 metres in this game, showing that they can roll up the sleeves when needed.
Players to Watch
Matt Frawley: Bulldogs debutant Matt Frawley has a mammoth task ahead of him this week, not only does he need to fill the shoes of Moses Mbye, but he has take the reins of the well-established and senior forward pack. Frawley, a Raiders junior, does play more of a traditional half’s role and perhaps with his organisational skills he may free up some time for Josh Reynolds. He will need to have the confidence to call the ball when he wants it and drive his forwards around the field. With the pressure mounting on Des Hassler he needs his side to perform. Frawley must repay Dessy’s faith and deliver a red-hot performance.
Ben Hunt: Ben Hunt is adding to his performances week on week and must be whetting the appetite of Dragons fans, giving them a taste of what they can expect from their new half-back. He has been going about his business each week and living up to his word that he is going to deliver for the Broncos right until the end of the 2017. So far in 2017 his kicking game has been clever and he has been looking to take the line on at every opportunity. He will come up against a rookie half this week but it won’t mean Hunt will be taking his foot off the gas, in fact it is a great chance for him to step it up a notch and stamp his authority on the game. Look for Hunt to give the rookie half a footy lesson.
Prediction: Media speculation has been surrounding these two teams deluxe the last few weeks. If media reports are to be believed, 2017 will be the last of Des Hasler’s coaching career at Belmore, and there is potentially a changing of the guard about to take place with the likes of Luke Brooks and Aaron Woods getting ready to pledge their allegiance to the Kennel. Amongst this speculation there is heavy criticism of the Bulldogs lacklustre attack which was evident against Manly last week when they did not even register a point. Look for a Brisbane team that has had a low-key week to come out and take the points again this week. There is no doubt this game will not be a walk in the park for the Broncos and there is sure to be a bit of feeling, especially with the history between Thaiday & Klemmer. There would be no surprises if we were to see some fireworks on the paddock this week. Even so, this is a game Brisbane should comfortably win with their attack too much for the Bulldogs to contain.