NRL PreviewBrisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks
Friday, August 11, 7:50pm (AEST) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

This shapes up as a crucial Top 4 battle between the third-placed Broncos and the fourth-placed Sharks. The loser will slip out of the Top 4, with the fifth-placed Eels expected to topple the Knights. The Broncos couldn’t have been any more impressive last week, thumping the Titans 54-0. Meanwhile, the Sharks suffered a disappointing loss to the Raiders and will desperate to maintain a Top 4 spot and keep their hopes of going back-to-back alive. It’s a mixed bag in terms of team news for the Sharks, with Origin utility Jack Bird ruled out with a shoulder injury, while Blues No.6 James Maloney makes a timely return.
HistoryThe Sharks have won four of the last six against the Broncos, including three straight at Suncorp. However, the Broncos won this year’s Round 1 clash at Cronulla 26-18.
FormBrisbane are up to third on the ladder with their 13-7 record following the 54-0 demolition job on the Titans at the Gold Coast. The Broncos have won five of their last seven and have topped 34 points in three of their last four. Brisbane have the best attack in the NRL. Cronulla are down to fourth on the ladder but also have 13 wins to their name. They enter this off a bad home loss to Canberra, a 30-12 smashing. The Sharks are 8-1 on the road this year.
Key MatchupAnthony Milford v James Maloney: Anthony Milford helped himself to a try in last week’s emphatic win over the Titans. He didn’t have to do too much as Ben Hunt produced a stunning performance off the bench in the hooking role. Milford will continue to direct the team around the park and take his opportunities when he sees them. It’s been a shaky month for the Sharks and the return of Maloney couldn’t come at a better time for the defending premiers. Maloney hasn’t played since the Sharks smashed the Roosters 44-12 in Round 17 and will be hoping he can change the Sharks’ fortunes. Maloney has six try-assists in his last three matches for the Sharks and will be looking to expose the Broncos defence.
Stats That Matter– Brisbane are 11-9 ATS with a 15-5 over record while Cronulla are 8-12 ATS with an 11-9 under number.
– Cronulla have won four of the last six against Brisbane, including three straight at Suncorp.
– Three of the last four matches have topped 44 points.
– Brisbane are 2-6 ATS off a win of 30-plus since 2014.
– Cronulla are 20-12 ATS as a road underdog since 2014 and have covered seven straight and 12 of their last 14 in the situation.
– The Sharks are a perfect 4-0 ATS as a road underdog after conceding 30 or more points.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf thinks the 6.5 start for the Sharks looks too big here, but sees better value in backing the Broncos to win by a margin of 1-12. Both sides will want to avoid slipping out of the Top 4 and a high-scoring shootout could be on the cards. The Broncos have the best attack in the competition, while the return of Maloney will help the Sharks attack as well.
How It’s Shaping UpBrisbane by 4
Best Bet
Brisbane 1-12 ($3)

Other Recommended Bets
Over 38.5 ($1.88)

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