Sunday’s matches for round 14 concludes with the Broncos travelling to Melbourne to take on fierce rivals, the Storm. Both sides come into this match with players backing up from the first game of State of Origin, which was held last Wednesday, as well as coming off a bye from last week.
Prior to last week’s rest, the Storm pipped a brave Cowboys outfit to the tune of 7-6, which came courtesy of a field goal by Cameron Munster. Whilst they were a touch fortunate to escape tropical North Queensland with the competition points (especially with the Cowboys being disallowed a try), it was impressive when you consider they were without stalwart fullback, Billy Slater.
For the Broncos, they were able to account for the luckless but gallant Eels to the tune of 18-10, prior to last week’s bye. Despite being dominated in the metre department, missing over 40 tackles and seeing less ball, the Bronx were able to make the match a memorable one for super coach, Wayne Bennett, given it was his 800th match as a premiership coach.
We can be assured that both teams will be primed for a massive game, despite the fact that there will be players backing up from last Wednesday’s Origin cracker. One reason is that neither team is faring as well as they would like, with the storm outside the top four, and the Broncos clinging onto eighth spot.
Moreover, there’s also the matter of whether Storm coach Craig Bellamy will remain in Melbourne, or whether he will make a return to Brisbane to take over from Wayne Bennett as Broncos coach. The Storm remain confident of retaining his services, however, the Broncos are doing what they can to lure him to Red Hill. Whatever the case, one can believe that both sides will want the matter resolved rather soon.
2018 - Round 7 - Melbourne Storm 34 def. Brisbane Broncos 20 at Suncorp Stadium.
2017 - Preliminary Final - Melbourne Storm 30 def. Brisbane Broncos 0 at AAMI Park.
2017 - Round 17 - Melbourne Storm 42 def. Brisbane Broncos 12 at Suncorp Stadium.
2017 - Round 3 - Melbourne Storm 14 def. Brisbane Broncos 12 at AAMI Park.
2016 - Round 25 - Brisbane Broncos 26 def. Melbourne Storm 16 at AAMI Park.
As can be seen, the Storm have been largely dominant in their recent outings with the Broncos, winning four of the last five. In fact, the Storm have been a bogey team for the Broncos, especially since Craig Bellamy emerged from the shadow of his former mentor, Wayne Bennett, to take the reigns at the Storm in 2003. The overall record between these teams shows that out of 44 matches, the Storm have claimed the bulk of them with 30 wins, while 13 have gone the way of the Broncos, followed by a draw in 2000.
The Broncos’ record in Melbourne is quite abysmal to say the least, having only won 5 of 21 matches in the Southern capital. Their most recent match will evoke some unwanted memories, given they were absolutely destroyed by the Storm in the preliminary final, en route to their well-deserved premiership. As such, there is an opportunity for them to exact revenge on the Storm in this match.
Despite the overall dominance of the Storm, this rivalry is full of intrigue, given the rivalry between Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett. As stated earlier, there is endless speculation regarding whether Bellamy will stay put or return to Brisbane to succeed his former mentor. Only time will tell.
|Melbourne Storm||Brisbane Broncos|
|1||Jahrome Hughes||Darius Boyd|
|2||Suliasi Vunivalu||Corey Oates|
|3||Will Chambers||James Roberts|
|4||Young Tonumaipea||Jordan Kahu|
|5||Josh Addo-Carr||Jamayne Isaako|
|6||Cameron Munster||Anthony Milford|
|7||Ryley Jacks||Kodi Nikorima|
|8||Jesse Bromwich||< player name redacted >|
|9||Cameron Smith||Andrew McCullough|
|10||Nelson Asofa-Solomona||Sam Thaiday|
|11||Felise Kaufusi||Alex Glenn|
|12||Joe Stimson||Jaydn Su'A|
|13||Tim Glasby||Josh McGuire|
|14||Brandon Smith||Patrick Mago|
|15||Kenny Bromwich||Joe Ofahengaue|
|16||Ryan Hoffman||Tevita Pangai Junior|
|17||Christian Welch||Kotoni Staggs|
|18||Patrick Kaufusi||Sam Tagataese|
|19||Brodie Croft||Todd Murphy|
|20||Scott Drinkwater||Troy Dargan|
|21||Cheyse Blair||David Fifita|
|22||Justin Olam||Tom Opacic|
The facts that matter
Despite escaping Townsville by the skin of their teeth a fortnight ago, the Storm built their victory on the back of an 80% completion rate (while restricting their opponents to a meagre 69%), as well as amassing 1468 metres (almost 200 more metres than their opponents), making more offloads, missing fewer tackles and committing fewer errors.
Although they may not find themselves in the top four, the Storm remain one of the best defensive teams in the competition, conceding only 189 for the season, to be ranked in the top two in that department. However, their attack is a cause for concern, as they are ranked even behind some teams who are in the bottom half of the ladder. Moreover, prop Jesse Bromwich has said that the Storm have addressed issues with their ill-discipline, given that this has prevented them from building regular combinations recently due to suspensions to some of their troops, including skipper Cameron Smith.
As for their home record, whilst it is relatively strong, it is nowhere near where they would like it to be, as they have won three matches, but have lost two matches. Those losses were surprise losses to the Tigers early in the season, and to the Sea Eagles three weeks ago, as they were without skipper Cameron Smith due to suspension. Their other home victory came against the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos were somewhat fortunate to win their match with the Eels, given they had less possession, made less metres than their opponents, were beaten in the offloads department, missed more tackles and conceded more penalties. However, they were more efficient with the ball, as they completed 86% of their sets, and made only 6 errors (compared to 14 for the Eels). Moreover, they made more line breaks than the Eels.
In terms of their attack and defence, both areas are definite causes of concern for the Broncos, as they find themselves clinging onto eighth spot, with a points differential of -32. The Tigers are one win behind them in 9th place, but their points differential is superior to the Broncos. Hence, if the Bronx lose this match and the Tigers manage to defeat the Sharks, they will almost certainly find themselves out of the top eight. Their attack is rather poor, to the extent that four of the bottom eight teams fave scored more points than them. Of greater concern is their defence. Not only have they conceded more points out of any team in the top eight, only five teams have leaked more points than the Broncos. Quite startling, given this is a team who are generally renowned for being a sound defensive unit.
The Broncos’ record away from home this season is break even, given they have won three games and lost as many games. Two of the three victories away from home have been highly impressive by the Bronx, given they came against the high flying Rabbitohs and Warriors. The other victory came against the Tigers in what was believed by many to be controversial. Given their poor record in Melbourne and overall record against the Storm, this match will be incredibly difficult for them to bring home the bacon, despite having some motivation to exact revenge on the Storm for their humiliation in the finals last year.
Neither team finds themselves in an ideal position and will be motivated to put that right, especially given we have just entered the second half of season 2018. Regardless of the fact that both teams have players backing up from mid-week representative duty, both sets of troops will be primed for a massive game, especially given the rivalry between the two sides.
As well as the fact that both teams will want to consolidate on their respective places in the top eight, both teams will be eager to have the matter of the head coach sorted. Speculation has been rife with regards to whether Craig Bellamy will remain at the Storm, or whether he would return to the Broncos to succeed his former mentor Wayne Bennett. Whilst the Storm are quite confident of retaining Bellamy’s services, the Broncos are confident of convincing him to return to Red Hill, and are prepared to offer him a lucrative contract as an incentive. It is reported that the Storm coach will make a final decision after this match. As such, both teams have an opportunity to perform one final audition to convince Bellamy as to where his future lies.
With this match, although the Storm will be without fullback, Billy Slater, the Broncos incredibly patchy form is too difficult to ignore, as well as the fact that they have struggled against the Storm since Bellamy took the reigns in 2003. Moreover, as stated earlier, they have a poor record in Melbourne. However, that won’t prevent them from having a red hot go and ripping into the Storm, especially with the desire to avenge their finals humiliation from last year. With all that said, the Storm have a fresh skipper in Cameron Smith onboard, thus it’s difficult to see anything other than a Storm victory in this match. Storm by 8.