NRL Preview
Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos
Saturday, June 24, 5:30pm (AEST), GIO Stadium, Canberra

The Raiders have a clear advantage heading into the clash against Broncos, with Josh Papalii their only Origin representative. Meanwhile, the Broncos will be relying on key players Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire getting through Origin unscathed and boarding the flight to the nation’s capital. The Broncos will also have to get the job done minus Anthony Milford, who is out for the next six weeks after dislocating his shoulder in the Round 14 win over the Rabbitohs. Team lists weren’t out at the time of this preview, but Benji Marshall and Ben Hunt are expected to feature in the halves.

The Broncos have won four straight and seven of their last nine against the Raiders. The last six games in Canberra have been split evenly with the Broncos winning the last two. The Broncos won a thriller 13-12 at Suncorp Stadium in Round 4 this year, with Jordan Kahu the unlikely hero, kicking the match-winning field-goal.

Canberra have severely underachieved this year with a 6-8 record. The Raiders have the third best attack and ninth best defence but have been abhorrent in close games, adding to their long list of losses a 24-20 loss to Penrith in Bathurst when leading by eight with four minutes to play. The Raiders have dropped their last two and have won just two of their last seven. Brisbane are entrenched in the eight with a 9-5 record. They rank fourth in defence and eighth in attack. Brisbane ended a two-game losing streak with a 24-18 win at home over Souths that was an unconvincing win. The Broncos have conceded at least 18 points in six of their last eight games.

Key Matchup
Josh Hodgson v Andrew McCullough. Hodgson has yet to rediscover the outstanding form he displayed in 2016 and needs to do a better job of tightening up the ruck and creating opportunities in attack. He missed 6 tackles in the Raiders loss to the Panthers in Round 14 and will be looking for a stronger performance here. McCullough will always make his 50 tackles a game, but needs to start running the ball and catching out lazy markers. He took a nasty knock against the Tigers in Round 11 and needs to start finding top gear as the Broncos battle through the disruptive Origin period.

Stats That Matter

– Canberra are 7-7 ATS with a 8-6 under record while Brisbane are 7-7 ATS with a 9-5 over record.
– Brisbane have won four straight and seven of their last nine against Canberra.
– The last six games at Canberra Stadium have been split evenly with the Broncos winning the last two.
– Nine of the last 12 matches have failed to break 40 points.
– Canberra are 19-25 ATS at home since 2014 and 1-6 ATS when favoured by less than a try (6-1 under in same situation).
– Brisbane are 13-10 ATS as an outsider away from Suncorp including a 7-3 ATS record when an outsider of less than a try.
– The under is 19-9 when an interstate underdog of 3.5 or less scored 24 or more points.
– Small interstate underdogs cover at 71% with the under hitting at 60%.

Final Thoughts
One point separated these sides when they met in Round 4 this year and The Wolf is expecting another tight affair. The loss of Anthony Milford is a massive blow for the Broncos chances, and home advantage could prove the difference for the Green Machine here. The Wolf’s recommended play is to back the unders, with nine of the last 12 matches failing to break 40 points.

How It’s Shaping Up
Canberra by 2

Best Bet
Under 42 points ($1.90)

Other Recommended Bets
Canberra 1-12 ($3.00)

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