Round 9 kicks off with the Broncos returning to their home surroundings to host the Bulldogs in Thursday night football. Here, we have the home side who are looking to stay in touch with the top 8, against a side who are desperate to distance themselves from the dreaded wooden spoon position.
The Broncos are anything but intimidating nowadays, and their inconsistent form this season has highlighted this. However, they are full of players who possess a wealth of experience at club and representative level, and must never be written off. Moreover, their victories over the Cowboys, Warriors and, more recently, the Rabbitohs have demonstrated that they are to be written off at one’s own peril. They head into this match full of confidence, following their upset victory over the Rabbitohs last week.
For the Bulldogs, they head into this match with their tails between their legs, having been defeated 22-14 by the Panthers at the foot of the Blue Mountains. This came after they held a solid 12-2 lead in the first half, having ambushed their opponents early on. The Doggies two victories have come against the Panthers and Cowboys in rounds 3 and 8, respectively. There has been minimal signs of improvement at Belmore.
This match is a must win game for both sides. The Bronx need a victory in this match to stay in touch with the top 8. Defeat is anything but an option for the Doggies, who can bid farewell to their finals aspirations, should they fall short here.
2017 - Round 20 - Brisbane Broncos 42 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 at Suncorp Stadium.
2017 - Round 5 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 def. Brisbane Broncos 7 at ANZ Stadium.
2016 - Round 24 - Brisbane Broncos 20 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 10 at Suncorp Stadium.
2016 - Round 16 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 40 def. Brisbane Broncos 14 at ANZ Stadium.
2015 - Round 22 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 def. Brisbane Broncos 16 at Suncorp Stadium.
Despite the Broncos consistently finishing in the top half of the ladder, and featuring in the top 4 in two of the last three years, it’s actually the Bulldogs who have dominated the recent encounters, winning three of the last five matches. However, of the 53 matches played between the two sides, the Bronx have emerged triumphant on 30 occasions, with 22 victories going to the Doggies, followed by a lone draw in 2002. This decade, the Bulldogs have only won on one occasion, which was in 2015, where they caused quite a boil over, in upsetting the Broncos.
|Brisbane Broncos||Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs|
|1||Darius Boyd||Moses Mbye|
|2||Corey Oates||Brett Morris|
|3||James Roberts||Josh Morris|
|4||Tom Opacic||Will Hopoate|
|5||Jamayne Isaako||Marcelo Montoya|
|6||Anthony Milford||Jeremy Marshall-King|
|7||Jack Bird||Kieran Foran|
|8||< Player name redacted >||Aaron Woods|
|9||Andrew McCullough||Michael Lichaa|
|10||Sam Thaiday||David Klemmer|
|11||Alex Glenn||Josh Jackson|
|12||Jaydn Su'A||Raymond Faitala-Mariner|
|13||Tevita Pangai Junior||Adam Elliott|
|14||Payne Haas||Clay Priest|
|15||Joe Ofahengaue||Danny Fualalo|
|16||Kodi Nikorima||Asipeli Fine|
|17||Korbin Sims||Kerrod Holland|
|18/19||Jonus Pearson||John Olive|
|19/20||Todd Murphy||Rhyse Martin|
|20/21||Sam Tagataese||Renouf To'omaga|
|21/23||Patrick Mago||Matthew Frawley|
The facts that matter
It’s no secret that the Broncos are nowhere near their best this season, and can be best described as inconsistent, hot and cold, unpredictable etc. They have been found wanting in their losses to the Titans and Knights, while being badly exposed by the Dragons (led by former Bronco, Ben Hunt) and the Storm. However, in their victories over the Cowboys, Warriors and Rabbitohs have shown that the Bronx can unite and fight through adversity to snare the competition points.
With regards to the home form of the Broncos, it is somewhat concerning when you consider that Lang Park is normally a graveyard for visiting teams. They have already lost two matches at home this season, which is only 8 rounds old. Moreover, highlighting the Broncos’ struggles this season is that fact that they ranked equal 6th worst in defence, which is rather concerning, when you consider that defence is a hallmark of any side coached by Wayne Bennett. In addition, they are ranked 7th worst in attack, scoring only 140 points thus far.
An advantage for the Bronx is that they have an opportunity to tighten up their defence, when they welcome back hooker and tackling workhorse, Andrew McCullough. Moreover, with Origin edging closer, there is all the motivation in the world for potential representative stars to turn in big performances.
The Dogs aren’t faring any better than their opponents, given they find themselves ranked above only the Cowboys and Eels in 14th place. As a result of their disappointing ladder placing, coach Dean Pay has had to wield the axe by dropping front rower, Greg Eastwood, as well as the talented yet inconsistent Michael Lichaa. In their respective places, Pay has brought in Clay Priest and Matt Frawley.
After enduring several lean seasons since their surprise grand final appearance in 2014 (including missing the finals altogether this year), the Bulldogs were hoping that they could turn the corner this season, but on current form, unfortunately there is minimal sign of that. The statistics for their deplorable form are apparent, as the Dogs have scored fewer points than any other team this season, except for their bitter rivals, the Eels. Moreover, the Bulldogs have conceded 168 points thus far, to be ranked 8th worst in the league.
It’s no secret the Morris twins have lost a fair amount of their pace, depriving the Dogs of some much needed potency in attack. But they will need to be more vocal, given they are some of the more senior players in the Bulldogs’ ranks. Moreover, forwards Aaron Woods and David Klemmer have even greater motivation to rip in, with Origin inching ever closer. Klemmer has even greater motivation to turn in a big one, having been sin-binned late last week, and the fact that he will turn out for the Doggies for the 100th time.
As stated earlier, this is a must win game for both teams. The Broncos will need to win this match to stay in touch with the top eight, given they find themselves in 10th position. For the Dogs, defeat is simply not an option. They must win this game, otherwise another defeat will effectively spell the end of their finals aspirations. As such, we can expect both sides to be fired up and raring to rip in to each other.
Given the backs to the wall mentality that the Dogs will take into this match, it will be of little surprise to see them employ their old “Dogs of War” mentality. However, I just don’t think it will be enough, thus I think the Bronx will be able to withstand the pressure the Doggies will throw at them. Broncos by 8.
Can the Bulldogs pull off a big upset on the road, or will the Broncos prove too strong? Let us know in the comments below.