The red-hot Warriors stay at home for the second successive week off the back of an impressive and resolute win against one of the precompetition favourites, the Cowboys. Now five and zero to start the season their off-season has evidently been huge firing in both attack and defence and they will be brimming with confidence heading into Round 6.
The Broncos played well in patches with individuals rather than the team performing well, the story of their season so far. For the Broncos sake let us hope their game plan is to win this week after Sam Thaiday's post-match comments after the Knights match.
Whilst Brisbane have been quick to quash any talk of being in trouble early on off the back of a two and three start, the fact they finished third last season after the same start bears in stark contrast to this season after losing Ese'ese and in particular Ben Hunt. There are talks of Bird moving to half however that is no quick fix and the Broncos could be in for a long season without a regular game managing half.
The Warriors, on the other hand, continue to go from strength to strength, taking their attacking chances, creating them brilliantly and then defending astutely with each player showing trust and faith in the men either side of him.
2017 - Round 12 - New Zealand Warriors 28 def. Brisbane Broncos 10 at Mt Smart Stadium
2016 - Round 13 - New Zealand Warriors 36 def. Brisbane Broncos 18 at Mt Smart Stadium
2016 - Round 2 - Brisbane Broncos 25 def. New Zealand Warriors at Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium
2015 - Round 4 - Brisbane Broncos 24 def. New Zealand Warriors 16 at Mt Smart Stadium
2014 - Round 19 - Brisbane Broncos 28 def. New Zealand Warriors 22 at Suncorp Stadium
Whilst the Broncos have the better of the last five exchanges the Warriors go into this match having won the last two between these sides. The form trends between the sides suggest home form holds a definite advantage however the Broncos cannot afford to be off on Saturday and go two and four for the season.
Whilst the Broncos have enjoyed greater success in recent seasons overall the Warriors have lifted against the Broncos sporting a large Kiwi contingent and come away with the win.
|New Zealand Warriors||North Queensland Cowboys|
|1||Roger Tuivasa-Sheck||Darius Boyd|
|2||David Fusitu’a||Corey Oates|
|3||Peta Hiku||James Roberts|
|4||Solomone Kata||Jack Bird|
|5||Ken Maumalo||Jamayne Isaako|
|6||Blake Green||Anthony Milford|
|7||Shaun Johnson||Kodi Nikorima|
|8||Bunty Afoa||Matthew Lodge|
|9||Issac Luke||Andrew McCullough|
|10||Agnatius Paasi||Tevita Pangai Junior|
|11||Leivaha Pulu||Alex Glenn|
|12||Tohu Harris||Matt Gillett|
|13||Adam Blair||Josh McGuire|
|14||Jazz Tevaga||Sam Thaiday|
|15||Sam Lisone||Joe Ofahengaue|
|16||Simon Mannering||Korbin Sims|
|17||Anthony Gelling||Jaydn Su'a|
|18||Mason Lino||Tom Opacic|
|19||Tevita Satae||Troy Dargan|
|20||Isaiah Papli'i||Sam Tagataese|
|21||Sam Cook||Payne Haas|
The facts of the matter
New Zealand Warriors
Many saw the signing of Blake Green as a half to steady the ship and take care of the main kicking duties. Whilst that has largely been the case Johnson has chimed in with two field goals under pressure and a 40/20. The calmness and composure of Green rubbing off his side as they are all seemingly carrying his experienced head on their shoulders at the moment.
Pressure the Brisbane halves, whilst a week is a long time in football the Brisbane halves are a work in progress and should their kicking and game management be tested things will come unstuck for a Broncos outfit already bereft a leading half.
Will ride the wave of momentum and have the backing of a parochial home side, the biggest assignment will be not getting too far ahead of themselves. However, in post-match interviews all season the players have remained level headed and if they continue their disciplined approach they will punish the Broncos.
For mine, the Broncos will need to have practiced some new set plays throughout the week and expose the Warriors with the speed of their outside backs. The Warriors have conceded just 65 points to start the season and their goal line defence has been superb. James Roberts and Anthony Milford should be running off the back of their forwards looking for offloads to sprint onto and wreak havoc on the Warriors.
Milford was Brisbane's best against the Knights, however, has shied away from a challenge in the past he has equally risen to deliver the Broncos at pivotal moments. Must be fed the ball as much as possible if he is to develop his game and go to the next level. Has the players on his side to make them shine and utilise their strengths with Oates up against winger in the air a mismatch and the speed of Roberts out wide a real weapon.
Kodi or Milford need to have had a chat to each other by now and realised their undoubted potential needs to be utilised and managed so they can both leave their mark on games. Moreover, they should be asking the entire team what they want from their half, and working on combinations with players that has been so crucially missing early on. Come into this game with a couple of trick shots with back rowers and they make catch the Warriors off-guard looking to rattle the diminutive playmakers.
No travel now for the last two weeks and the Warriors will be the much more refreshed side after blitzing the competition in the opening month. Despite the magic of Milford I don't see the Broncos crafting a multitude of chances and so will need to take their opportunities when they arise.
For a sixth straight win in front of their jubilant home fans I'll take the Warriors to win by 8 points.
Who will come out on top at Mt Smart Stadium between the Warriors and Broncos on Saturday? Let us know in the comments below.