Fortress Suncorp; for years it has been a formidable venue for visitors. The crowds are robust and parochial. The Broncos are tough in the middle and slick on the edges. The Roosters; a highly successful team in the modern era, have won just 4 matches at Suncorp Stadium. But there's a different feeling about the Broncos in 2018. They're a team lacking go-forward. They're a team lacking polish. Above all, they're a team with inconsistent application in defence, which is something you never see. The Broncos sit one win outside the Top 8, but the outlook isn't great if they can't turn around their defensive woes.
The Roosters are a team struggling for consistency themselves. They've punted one of their favourite sons to bring in Cooper Cronk; a move to bring about a change in culture and immediate success. Throw in the signing of James Tedesco and the Roosters have spent big to get the premiership that eluded them last year. But they haven't quite clicked. They sit in 6th position with 6 wins from 10 games and will be hoping to continue their form from last week, after dismantling the in-form Warriors.
8th September 2017 - Roosters won 24-22
3rd June 2017 - Roosters won 18-16
6th April 2017 - Broncos won 32-8
1st September 2016 - Broncos won 24-14
28th July 2016 - Roosters won 32-16
A lot of recent battles between the two clubs have been close, including the Roosters' last-gasp victory in the Qualifying Final last year. Since entering the competition in 1988, the Broncos have enjoyed 27 wins from 46 matches against the Roosters.
|Brisbane Broncos||Sydney Roosters|
|1||Darius Boyd||James Tedesco|
|2||Corey Oates||Joseph Manu|
|3||James Roberts||Latrell Mitchell|
|4||Tom Opacic||Mitch Aubusson|
|5||Jamayne Isaako||Blake Ferguson|
|6||Anthony Milford||Luke Keary|
|7||Kodi Nikorima||Cooper Cronk|
|8||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|9||Andrew McCullough||Jake Friend|
|10||Sam Thaiday||Dylan Napa|
|11||Tevita Pangai Jr.||Boyd Cordner|
|12||Jaydn Su'A||Ryan Matterson|
|13||Joe Ofahengaue||Isaac Liu|
|14||Sam Tagataese||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|15||Gehamat Shibasaki||Zane Tetevano|
|16||Korbin Sims||Kurt Baptiste|
|17||Patrick Mago||Victor Radley|
|18||Kotoni Staggs||Nat Butcher|
|19||Todd Murphy||Sitili Tupouniua|
|20||George Fai||Lindsay Collins|
|21||David Fifita||Mitchell Cornish|
The facts that matter
The Broncos, when coached by Wayne Bennett, are a team built around defence. Their charge to the 2015 Grand Final was a testament to this. This season they've had a plethora of words written about their lack of game management, about their injuries or about their lack of go-forward. But it's their defence that is most troubling, with 23.2 points conceded per game (4th worst in the league). Whatever problems they have with creativity in their halves, defensive attitude should not change. Key men, like Gillett and McGuire, are injured, but the Broncos are a club lacking leadership in their forward pack and they are lacking grunt in their defence. If they are any chance of turning their season around and featuring prominently in September, their attitude must change first.
The Roosters are actually almost the complete opposite in that regard. While their much-publicised attack has failed to truly click into gear, their defence has been the envy of the competition, conceding just 14 points per game. Not even the high-flying Dragons can best that. It's a throwback to their 2013 Premiership winning side, where Trent Robinson re-jigged their defensive structure and turned them into champions. To take two points away from the Broncos at Suncorp who are stinging after an embarrassing loss to the Sea Eagles, the Roosters will have to get into a long grind and come out the other side with their defence intact. Keeping the Warriors to zero points last week should prove excellent practice.
Beware the Broncos after a loss. Their record this season is 5 wins and 5 losses. Their record at home is 2 wins and 2 losses (although you can add another loss where they were 'away' at Suncorp). They've just been beaten; we can expect an excellent effort from the Broncos this Friday night. But the Roosters should be too good. Roosters by 6.