Scouting Report: The Broncos
Nobody gave the Broncos a chance of mounting a premiership tilt less than a month ago. They had lost four of five games as the critics up north began to circle around Wayne Bennett’s side.
However since then they have recovered to get their season back on track with three straight wins.
The Broncos’ last two wins over Storm have both been in Melbourne, all be it five years apart. Now they come to town with nothing short of victory needed to keep them in the hunt for a top four finish.
We take a look at the key reasons behind the Broncos turnaround in the last few weeks.
Recovered from Origin hangover
The Origin period was not kind to the Broncos. They entered it sitting a comfortable game clear inside the top four but by the time it was over they had dropped to sixth. Injuries to key personnel brought an added burden to a side that also had six players away on Origin duty. All six of those players will be back for tonight, fit and ready to line up against Storm. Many forget that this was a team that had moved into premiership favouritism earlier this season and were five seconds from winning it all last year. With their talent all back and firing, the Broncos have started to show why they were so highly regarded not so long ago.
In your face, hard-nosed defence is not something that has characterised the Broncos in recent seasons. During their run of one win in five games defence was actually their Achilles heel, conceding 32 points per game during that time. However in their last three wins they have allowed a combined total of just 34 points. The last time Brisbane made the trip south they got the win on the back of one of the all-time great defence performances. The Broncos made 385 tackles on the Storm and have shown a similar defensive resolve in the past few weeks, suggesting they will be out to do the same again.
Eight weeks is a long time
Melbourne may have blown them away at Suncorp Stadium back in Round 17 but rest assured this will be a very different Broncos side than the one that played that night. As well as having no Sam Thaiday, Brisbane lost Corey Oates through concussion early on which left a gaping whole on their left edge. Oates will be back in the line up on Friday night and leads the NRL with 20 line breaks for the season. The Broncos are also a team playing with a lot more confidence than in Round 17, making this return bout a much closer proposition.