NRL Tips guru Steve Green is back, bringing punters his NRL preview of the Queensland blockbuster between the Cowboys and the Broncos in Townsville.
The Broncos were pitiful last weekend against a determined Doggies and although we didn’t back the Broncos last weekend, it certainly blew a hole in my recent prediction that they were going to continue winning all the way into a top 4 spot.
Obviously the top 4 spot is still alive, unfortunately because the Dragons lost too, but on current form the Broncos are going to struggle. Matters have been made worse by the suspension to McGuire for pulling the hair of Adam Elliott last weekend.
When you throw in the season-ending loss of Su’a and Gillett from earlier in the year, then the Broncos are missing what would be their starting back row.
Luckily, they have guys like Fifita, Glenn and Pangai Jr to fill the gap! Though the injury concerns around Pangai Jr are a big worry and this has been a big factor in me not backing the Broncos here.
As for the Cowboys, Thurston came to life at the end of that Roosters match and he nearly snuck an amazing win for the struggling Cowboys. But again they fell short and really, I think the Roosters simply clocked off too early and allowed the Cowboys back into the match.
For me, the Cowboys are still far too reliant on a few key players. For instance, Taumalolo has made twice as many metres in 2018 as the next best forward for the Cowboys.
That is a ridiculous amount of work for one forward to do and although he is still getting the job done, opponents of the Cowboys know that shutting down Hess, Cooper or Taumalolo is the key to stopping Cowboys points… because out wide, they have the worst attacking backs in the NRL.
The Broncos are also struggling a bit out wide against the good defensive teams, who are finding ways to shut Milford down and cut down the time he has with the ball. That is why Bennett is toying with the idea of dropping the out of sorts Kahu and giving youngster Gehmat Shibasaki a run at starting centre, with Staggs on the bench. These two may swap placed before kick off.
But if 2018 has taught me anything, is that if they are good enough – then they are old enough…in my opinion Staggs is good enough and from what I have seen on YouTube and seen in QLD Cup highlights, Gehmat Shibasaki will be a first grader for a long time to come.
So, with the Broncos desperate to maintain touch with the top 4 and playing the team sitting dead last on the ladder, I was a little surprised to see the Broncos only -4.0 here.
While the Cowboys have welcomed back McLean and Scott in recent weeks, I still think they are struggling out wide and the Broncos backs should be too slick here. I was tempted to back the Broncos, but the likely loss of Pangai Jr is just such a big factor here, that the home team will be right in this one.