A month ago the Broncos were pushing for a top-four berth. They now sit in eighth position, just one win in front of the Tigers. A loss against the Bunnies here and they are a very real chance of missing the eight. Of greatest concern to their fans should be the Broncos defence. In the past two weeks they've given up 70 points to sides sitting at the bottom of the ladder.
The Bunnies went down last week to their arch-rivals the Roosters in a 1st vs. 2nd blockbuster. The Roosters were the better side on the night but it's fair to say neither side hit their straps. The Rabbitohs will want a much-improved performance on Thursday night and coming up against the defensive frailties of the Broncos, South Sydney's attack must be licking their lips. The Bunnies want to keep touch with the Minor Premiership and Brisbane want to keep touch with the eight. There's no shortage of intrigue as Round 23 kicks off at Suncorp Stadium.
2018 - Round 8 - Broncos 24 def. Rabbitohs 20 at ANZ Stadium
2017 - Round 14 - Broncos 24 def. Rabbitohs 18 at Suncorp Stadium
2017 - Round 8 - Broncos 25 def. Rabbitohs 24 at ANZ Stadium
2016 - Round 19 - Broncos 30 def. Rabbitohs 10 at ANZ Stadium
2016 - Round 8 - Broncos 30 def. Rabbitohs 8 at Suncorp Stadium
These two sides have already met once this season with the Bunnies going down to the Broncos by four points in Round 8 this year. In that game, the Broncos skipped out to a big lead before holding off a fast-finishing Rabbitohs in the final stages. The Rabbitohs have had little recent joy against the Brisbane outfit with losses in their last five matchups. If you're looking to pick the score for this game, 24 or 30 are your lucky numbers. In their past five, the Broncos have beaten the Bunnies twice when hitting 24 points and twice when reaching 30.
|1||Darius Boyd||Dane Gagai|
|2||Corey Oates||Hymel Hunt|
|3||James Roberts||Braidon Burns|
|4||Jordan Kahu||Tyrell Fuimaono|
|5||Jamayne Isaako||Richard Kennar|
|6||Anthony Milford||Cody Walker|
|7||Kodi Nikorima||Adam Reynolds|
|8||Matthew Lodge||Thomas Burgess|
|9||Andrew McCullough||Damien Cook|
|10||Sam Thaiday||George Burgess|
|11||Alex Glenn||John Sutton|
|12||Tevita Pangai Junior||Angus Crichton|
|13||Josh McGuire||Sam Burgess|
|14||Kotoni Staggs||Mawene Hiroti|
|15||Joe Ofahengaue||Cameron Murray|
|16||Korbin Sims||Jason Clark|
|17||David Fifita||Tevita Tatola|
|18||Patrick Mago||Matt McIlwrick|
|19||Troy Dargan||Kyle Turner|
|20||Gehamat Shibasaki||Dean Britt|
|21||Sam Tagataese||Connor Tracey|
The facts that matter
Tensions are simmering in Brisbane and the standoff between coach Wayne Bennett and CEO Paul White looks to be coming to a head. Reports have emerged that Wayne Bennett and captain Darius Boyd were a no-show at White's annual club BBQ, further widening the rift between the Bronco's coach and boss. Bennett wants to stay at the helm of the club but it appears the board have other ideas. Contracted until the end of 2019, Bennett is looking for a one-year extension that would see him finish his career at the Broncos. Senior management are digging their heels in and have denied an extension request, reportedly sounding out none other than Bunnies' mentor - Anthony Seibold. This game promises to be a fascinating matchup and if Seibold gets one-up over Bennett, it could well seal the master coach's fate.
The Bunnies come off a last-start loss at the hands of despised rivals the Roosters but lost more than the two competition points in that match. Fullback Alex Johnston suffered a hamstring strain just two minutes into that clash and won't line up this round against the Broncos. That's tough news for the Rabbitohs who are also down Greg Inglis (broken hand) and Robert Jennings (hamstring). The absence of key speed men has resulted in a backline reshuffle for the Bunnies and coach Anthony Seibold has opted to play Dane Gagai at fullback. Tyrell Fuimaono starts in the centres, pushing Hymel Hunt onto the Wing. Youngster Mawene Hiroti makes his debut off the bench and will provide cover should one of the outside backs go down. It's far from ideal preparation for the Bunnies but will give a real sense of where they are at as we edge towards the finals series.
The Broncos are in plenty of trouble and off-field distraction is clearly taking its toll. After smashing the Panthers 50-18, the Broncos have managed just the solitary win and have given up plenty of points to the lowly Bulldogs and Cowboys. The Bunnies were far from impressive last weekend against the Roosters but that entire clash lacked the fire we all expected. Brisbane is a tough road trip and with the Bunnies down on troops we are tipping a big bounce back from the Broncos. Brisbane by 2.
Plenty of intrigue as the Broncos host the Bunnies. Is there a sniff of an upset as we kick off Round 23?