Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs Thursday, May 3, 7:50pm (AEST) Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Broncos will be without another key member of their forward pack for the next six weeks after Josh McGuire picked up an ankle injury in last week’s good win over the Rabbitohs, joining Matt Gillett on the sidelines. At the time of this preview it was was reported that hooker Andrew McCullough trained on Monday and could make an early comeback from an elbow injury. The Bulldogs have now lost two in a row after their shock win over the Cowboys in Townsville and will face a tough test here. Once again early reports are that Michael Lichaa will be dropped as coach Dean Pay looks to shake things up.
FormBrisbane are 10th on the ladder with a 4-4 record. They rank eighth in scoring and ninth in defence. The Broncos have scored 20-plus in three straight, defeating New Zealand and South Sydney and losing to Melbourne. Canterbury have managed just two wins this year and have won just one of their last five. They rank 15th in scoring and 10th in defence. The Bulldogs have scored more than 18 just twice this year.
Key MatchupJack Bird v Kieran Foran: The Wolf is surprised by the talk that Jack Bird could be in line for a Blues jersey, playing in the halves alongside James Maloney. It would be fair to say that Bird has hardly set the world on fire in his three matches in the halves for the Broncos. He’s a natural ball runner, who isn’t taking the line on enough, and is probably still working his way back to full fitness. Bird needs a big match on Thursday night if Brad Fittler is serious about selecting him. Meanwhile, Kieran Foran is finally looking settled at the Bulldogs and is doing his best to direct the Bulldogs around the park, with the young and inexperienced Jeremy Marshall-King alongside him. He’s had a try-assist in three of his past four matches, but like Bird, needs to challenge the defensive line more often.
Stats That Matter– Brisbane are 3-5 ATS with a 5-3 total record while Canterbury are 2-6 ATS with a 6-2 under number. – The Broncos have won six of the last nine against the Bulldogs and five of the last six at Suncorp, with their last three wins at the ground all being by margins of 10 or more. – Nine of the last 12 matches have failed to break 38 points. – The Broncos have covered just 1 of their last 6 and 3 of their last 10 at Suncorp. – Brisbane are 17-12 ATS with a 16-13 over record when favoured by a converted try or more at home while they are 17-10 over at the ground after scoring 20 or more. – Brisbane are 19-11 ATS with a 20-10 over record when at Suncorp off a win. – The Broncos are 4-7 ATS with an 8-3 over record at Suncorp after conceding 20. – The Bulldogs have covered just 12 of their last 40 away from ANZ with the under 27-13 in those matches. – Their last 10 away from the ground have resulted in three outright wins and seven losses of seven or more points. – Canterbury are 7-11 ATS with a 13-5 under record away from ANZ after conceding 20 and are 11-4 under interstate. – The Bulldogs have covered just 2 of their last 12 off two straight losses.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf was impressed with the way the Broncos grinded out the win over the Rabbitohs last week and will be hard to beat returning to Suncorp Stadium. The Broncos have won six of the last nine against the Bulldogs and five of the last six at Suncorp, with their last three wins at the ground all being by margins of 10 or more. Keep an eye on team news, but if Andrew McCullough returns, it’s a massive boost for the Broncos and keep an eye out for the giant rookie Payne Haas off the bench.
How It’s Shaping UpBrisbane by 16
Recommended BetsBest: Brisbane -6 ($1.91) Value: Brisbane 13+ & Over 39.5 ($4.50) First Tryscorer: Corey Oates