What you need to know – Round 17
Defensive minds think alike
It is no secret that being rock-solid defensively is a non-negotiable for Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett. Storm rank second for fewest points conceded at an average of 15.8 points per game, the Broncos sit one spot behind them at 16.3. In Melbourne’s last six wins against Brisbane they have held them to an average score of less than eight points. The men in purple will be out to do the same again on Friday night.
Broncos bouncing back
Brisbane began the Origin period in shaky fashion with two straight defeats but they have since steadied in the ship with wins over the Rabbitohs and Raiders. That 10-point triumph in the nation’s capital last week would have done wonders for their confidence as they proved there is plenty of life left in their campaign despite recent injuries to key playmakers Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford.
Air Vunivalu v Air Oates
Get your popcorn ready because it is going to be a special kind of show on the far side of the field when Suliasi Vunivalu and Corey Oates go head to head. Vunivalu has scored 12 tries for the season and his finish in the corner last week against the Roosters was among the best you will see all year. Oates has crossed the line on eight occasions, produced 40 tackle busts and averaged 170 metres per game. Two of the best young wingers in the game, their aerial abilities make this a mouth-watering match up every fan will enjoy.
Stars still in doubt?
Despite resting four of his five Origin stars last week Craig Bellamy could not confirm whether all of them would be fit to take on the Broncos on Friday night. Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith all missed the Roosters’ game through soreness while Will Chambers continues to be monitored after sustaining a concussion in Origin II. ‘Touch and go’ were the words Craig Bellamy used in his post-game press conference but with all four named in the extended squad, Storm fans will be hoping they are fit and available.
Home away from home
You have to go back eight years – Round 2, 2009 for the last time Brisbane beat Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium. Storm have won their last six games against the Broncos at the venue, by an average margin of 14 points. Suncorp has become somewhat of a home away from home for Melbourne, something no doubt the Broncos are desperate to put a stop to.