NRL Tips guru Steve Green previews the important clash between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels from Suncorp Stadium.
The big off-field issue leading up to this match is the speculation that the Broncos are looking at replacing Coach Bennett with Craig Bellamy from Melbourne, in what would be the biggest coaching coup in decades!
Bennett’s career record in Brisbane has been pretty amazing and although he hasn’t brought a title back to Brissie in his most recent stint, I find it amazing that the Broncos board are apparently already losing patience with him.
No doubt the idiotic $1 million a year recruitment of Jack Bird has been an issue, especially with Ben Hunt tearing it up at the Dragons… but still, this speculation surely has to be weighing on them.
As for this game, I was a little surprised to see the line only 6 points. If the Broncos hadn’t played such an epic game against the Roosters last weekend, I would be backing them again here.
But that match against the Roosters was as intense as a State of Origin encounter and with Korbin Sims joining McGuire, Haas and Gillett on the sideline, I am worried that the Broncos forwards depth is really being tested.
I am also worried that the Broncos might be struggling to cope after a series of draining encounters. Reports out of the Broncos HQ were that only 12 players were fully fit and able to train on Monday.
The Broncos just got home against the Doggies a couple of weeks ago and were then smashed by Manly the week after. So, although they played well against the Roosters, it should be noted that the Roosters also made 14 errors.
With the Eels, I really like the idea of switching Gutherson and Norman around and I commend Coach Arthur for taking such a drastic step. It amazes me that coaches persist with combinations that are not working and for whatever reason, the Eels attack just isn’t clicking.
Last weekend they had the better of nearly all the stats against the Warriors, but they still went down by 10 points.
From a team stats perspective, the Broncos better the Eels in terms of line breaks conceded (Broncos 43 Vs Eels 52) and line breaks made (Broncos 45 Vs Eels 36). In most of the other categories however, things are actually pretty close and if the Eels can learn to make the most of their field position, they might be able to make a real game of it.
If the game wasn’t being played at Suncorp then I would consider having a small play on the Eels at the plus. That said, the Eels’ inability to play good consistent footy in 2018 is a real concern, and they are still missing Mannah, Pritchard and Brown from their forward pack.
Although the Broncos have been involved in some uncharacteristically high scoring games this year, I think the Eels will come with a smothering game plan and try to turn this match into a grind.
They don’t have the class to match the likes of Roberts, Milford and Oates out wide, so expect plenty of niggle and the fast moving defensive line we expected to see from the Eels in 2018.