This intriguing match-up between the second placed Roosters and the third placed Broncos will kick-off the first week of the finals in 2017. The positions which both teams finished the regular season has seen them earn the right to a double chance in the event of a loss in this game. The winner will earn a spot in the preliminary finals in a fortnight’s time, thereby earning next week off.
The Roosters make an instant return to the finals, having missed them altogether last season. They finished the regular season with a hard-fought win over the Gold Coast Titans. The margin of victory was narrow but was enough to finish in the top two.
Brisbane returned to winning ways with a 20-10 victory over rivals North Queensland Cowboys. That match had marked a strong defensive turnaround, in which they went from conceding a half-century a fortnight ago to just 10 points last week.
The most recent finals encounter between the two sides was in the preliminary final in 2015 at Suncorp Stadium. That match saw Broncos fullback Darius Boyd intercept a speculative Shaun Kenny-Dowall pass to open the scoring. That moment set the tone for the remainder of the match as the Roosters eventually had no answer to the Broncos, who emerged with a 31-12 victory before losing in the Grand Final.
2017 – Rd 13 Sydney Roosters 18 def. Brisbane Broncos 16 at Allianz Stadium
2017 – Rd 6 Brisbane Broncos 32 def. Sydney Roosters 8 at Suncorp Stadium
2016 – Rd 26 Brisbane Broncos 24 def. Sydney Roosters 14 at Suncorp Stadium
2016 – Rd 21 Sydney Roosters 32 def. Brisbane Broncos 16 at Allianz Stadium
2015 – Prelim Final Brisbane Broncos 31 def. Sydney Roosters 12 at Suncorp Stadium
Home advantage has been key in the last five meetings between the two sides. Brisbane came out on top in their previous finals meeting but if this pattern continues, then the Roosters may well book their place in the semi-final. Of the 45 matches played between the two teams, the Broncos lead the Tricolours by 27 victories to 18.
|SYDNEY ROOSTERS||BRISBANE BRONCOS|
|Michael Gordon||1||1||Kodi Nikorima|
|Joseph Manu||2||2||Corey Oates|
|Latrell Mitchell||3||3||James Roberts|
|Mitchell Aubusson||4||4||Tautau Moga|
|Blake Ferguson||5||5||Jordan Kahu|
|Luke Keary||6||6||Anthony Milford|
|Mitchell Pearce||7||7||Benji Marshall|
|Jared Waerea-Hargreaves||8||8||Sam Thaiday|
|Jake Friend||9||9||Ben Hunt|
|Dylan Napa||10||10||Adam Blair|
|Boyd Cordner||11||11||Alex Glenn|
|Aidan Guerra||12||12||Matt Gillett|
|Isaac Liu||13||13||Josh McGuire|
|Kane Evans||14||14||David Mead|
|Sio Siua Taukeiaho||15||15||Jai Arrow|
|Ryan Matterson||16||16||Joe Ofahengaue|
|Connor Watson||17||17||Herman Ese’ese|
|Zane Tetevano||18||18||Jaydn Su’A|
|Victor Radley||19||19||Tom Opacic|
|Mitchell Cornish||22||20||Jamayne Isaako|
|Daniel Tupou||23||21||Sam Scarlett|
The Facts That Matter
The Roosters welcome back Maroons pair Dylan Napa and Aidan Guerra in what is a similar side to the one which accounted for the Titans in their pre-finals hit out. Since their post-Origin bye, the Roosters have won five out of their last seven matches. Their most recent defeats came against the Sea Eagles and the all-conquering Storm. Their recent form has been key in helping them seal second place.
The Roosters have only two out of the 12 home games this season and only one of them was at the Allianz Stadium. The latter came back in round five against the Sea Eagles too with the Allianz becoming a fortress. This consistency gives the Roosters the best home record in the NRL.
The hosts have built their successful season on the back of a strong defence again this season. Defence has been a hallmark of the Roosters’ strong displays in four of the past five years. One area which the Tricolours will want to improve is in cutting down errors, having made more than anyone else in the league.
The Broncos are forced to make major changes to their squad with fullback and captain Darius Boyd missing out due to the hamstring injury he picked up last week. Kodi Nikorima will move into the number one jersey with Benji Marshall partnering Anthony Milford in the halves. Ben Hunt will continue to fill in at dummy half for the injured Andrew McCullough. They were forced into similar changes to their spine last week but that did not stop them from taking the Queensland bragging rights.
Like their hosts, the Broncos have remained in or around the top four for the vast majority of the season. Their superior points differential meant that they would’ve finished above the Roosters had they picked up one more victory across the season. They have won seven of their 12 away games this season, interestingly the same record that the Tricolours have in 2017. However, three of the five defeats on the road came against their fellow top four sides, including an 18-16 defeat at the Allianz Stadium, Statistically, the Broncos have the second best attack in the league while only three teams have conceded less points. They will have to find a similar performance with the ball in hand to qualify for the semi-finals with a victory.
Whenever there is a match featuring these two teams, it is sure to be filled with an abundance of highlights. This match has all the hallmarks of an absolute blockbuster. Although the Broncos boast a superior attack, the tricolours boast a stronger defence, conceding fewer tries and overall points. The defensive factor, coupled with home advantage and the absence of Boyd, should tip the game towards the Roosters. Roosters by 4.
Who will come out on top in the battle between second and third, the Broncos or the Roosters? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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