NRL Rd 23 – Broncos vs Sharks – Free Game Preview
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Broncos vs Sharks
Top 4 clash between the Broncos and Sharks at Suncorp Stadium closes out Friday Night Football. The Sharks have won 4 of the last 6 encounters with the Broncos and they have also won the previous 3 meetings contested at Suncorp Stadium, making it 7 wins for the away team from the last 8 match ups. Recent meetings have been closely fought contests, with the last 5 decided by single figures, while 3 of the last 4 encounters have tallied 44 or more. After a demolition job on the Titans last start the Broncos return to Suncorp Stadium where they have won 8 of their last 9 and 12 of their last 13 as a starting favourite. They have won 5 of their last 7 but their last 3 losses have all been against a Top 8 opponent. Brisbane moved back into 3rd on the ladder, while their 54 point haul against the Titans now has them ranked 1st in attack, while they have moved up to 3rd in defence. The Broncos are 11-9 ATS and have covered in 4 of their last 5 at Suncorp as a favourite, while since 2014 they have a 19-10 cover record at the ground when laying more than a converted try advantage. In total match points they are 13-7 Over, with a 7-2 Over record at home, while their last 7 have all topped 42. The Broncos have won 8 of 11 with a half time lead, but has only won 4 of 8 when trailing at half time. Brisbane winger Corey Oates scored a double last week in his return match from injury and he has also scored in his last 3 matches against the Sharks. Cronulla may be looking forward to a road game after yet another home loss, while they have suffered just the 1 defeat away from home this season, winning 8 of 9 and remain as 1 of only 2 sides yet to suffer B2B defeats in 2017. They have a 5-3 record against the Top 8, with 2 of the 3 losses coming from 2 of their 3 most recent matches, but they haven’t played a Top 8 opponent for 6 weeks. They have a 9-7 win record since 2014 as an interstate underdog, with an 11-5 cover record. Last week’s loss saw Cronulla drop from 3rd to 4th, while they rank 9th in attack and still rank 2nd in defence. The Sharks are 8-12 ATS, but have been positive on the road, producing a 7-2 cover record, while they have covered in 9 of their last 10 as a road underdog. They are 14-6 Under in total match points, including 8 of their last 9 on the road, while they are 8-4 Under away from home over the last 2 seasons as an outsider. Cronulla has won 7 of 8 with a half time lead, but have been a 50/50 proposition when trailing at the break, producing a 6-6 result. Home faves are 7-23 ATS under Ben Cummins, with a 19-11 win loss record and a 19-11 Under record.
Two top 4 sides who have plenty of ill feeling between them face up in a prime time Friday night clash, this should be a cracker!
Also two key milestone games here, #600 for Wayne Bennett as Coach of the Broncos, #300 NRL games for Paul Gallen.
The Broncos come off an interesting form line and recent form journey, off a resounding 50 point win last week over the Titans but given the Titans recent rubbish form and the fact that the Broncos have had such a long term hold over them that result really means little and somewhat like kissing your sister! If we go back a week prior they were well an truly touched up by a physical Eels side in Sydney and importantly that loss was their 3rd consecutive loss against Top 8 opponents through recent months (Eels, Storm, Roosters). What has been highlighted in these 3 defeats, most notably for mine the last 2 was the Broncos struggle with physical teams that look to work them over, take hold of the middle, limit their yardage and room to play and force errors – all of which at their best the Sharks will bring to this contest in spades. Clearly McCullough is a key out and their record with out him is poor and we’ll now see a far more stringent test of the Thaiday / Hunt #9 experiment up against some quality defence. Bennett tho is a master at playing to his strengths and I’d suggest he is looking to play “small and fast” once some of the sting is out of the game looking to use the speed, step and skill of Hunt, Nikorima and Milford in behind the Sharks big men and or on their edges, in particular to the Broncos right side looking to open any opportunity up with the likes of Boyd and Roberts to support and finish.
While the Sharks have had some what a roller coaster ride this season with the inconsistent quality of what they have put on the park each week they have many positive ticks here. As the current Premiers they have already climbed the mountain and so the weekly hunger doesn’t burn as strongly week to week to accomplish the final master goal as it did last year, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that when right and everyone is on the same page they can put in a high quality offering (Storm rd6, Roosters rd17). They are also the type of side who can certainly lift off a good poke in the eye and its been a nice week of this with firstly their home loss last weekend (Raiders) and the spray and work over they will have had since from Flanagan, and then the media spat through recent days over Jack Bird. For mine they will be up and ready to really rip in here. They bring a physical, grunt and muscle game to this contest that can and will test the Broncos and they have now won 4 of the last 6 times they have met including winning the last 3 straight in Brisbane. They have also been super on the road this season, winning 8 of their last 9 away games, and while some of their week to week form has been patchy they are yet to lose consecutive games this season! They also get Maloney back, a significant key in for them.
The Broncos are very good at home winning 8 of their last 9 but the Sharks its clearly not a disadvantage to the Sharks with them winning the last 3 here and their strong road record. The Sharks best is tough, tight and physical and I expect that’s an advantage here and I’m expecting that they will really want to work the middle 3rd of the park over and over. The last 5 contests between these two have each been tight close games decided by 5 points or less, and the Sharks also have a very good record covering the line start when interstate (67% of last 21 interstate games), even better covering the line start when interstate off a last start loss (78%).
I like the Sharks here, this looks the right week, the right game circumstance, a big note game and the right opponent – I think they can win straight up. Given all of the above I marked the handicap tight at 1.5, the +6.5 position for the Sharks is how I want to play.
Bet Sharks +6.5 $1.91 William Hill
Key Contest Stats
Kind thanks to Mark Hull a good friend and keen NRL follower who complies a weekly list of key stats and insights for each game. You can also follow Mark on Twitter here @
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Having coached at a senior level for 16 years including 3 years on the coaching staff of an NRL club Mr G is an avid student of the game. He’s coached sides to win titles at a senior level, run the football arm of a successful district club, managed professional players and worked in various development roles, so it’s fair to say the game of Rugby League is certainly in his blood and supports an experienced and unique offering.
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