NRL Round 8: Broncos v Souths Preview & Betting Tips
Get the popcorn ready – Wayne Bennett’s Bunnies face Anthony Seibold’s Broncos in the grudge match of the season.
Souths were pushed all the way by a battling Penrith in their 22-18 win, needing to rely on their red-zone defence to hold off a late comeback. The Bunnies were dominated in possession, territory and running metres but showed why under wily coach Wayne Bennett they’re such a genuine Premiership contender.
Halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds were ruthless enough to exploit any openings in the Panthers defence in the rare times they had attacking territory and even without the retired Greg Inglis, Souths still have a game-breaking Queensland centre in Dane Gagai whose offload to set up Corey Allan in the first half was flat out extraordinary.
Cameron Murray continues to push for a NSW call-up with another impressive performance in the middle and Ethan Lowe’s February signing on a bargain deal could be the best value for money Souths signing in recent times – the forward is the Bunnies’ bench leader and is delivering experience throughout their bench rotations. With Melbourne seemingly malfunctioning and the Roosters losing Jake Friend, Souths will be pleased to collect another two points and now will look to show Anthony Seibold what he’s missed out on in his return to ANZ Stadium.
It had to come – Brisbane’s miserable losing streak ended with a breakthrough 29-6 win over the Sharks at Suncorp. The match was setup for the Broncos – the already-depleted Sharks lost Josh Dugan before kickoff and Shaun Johnson just after with hamstring injuries – but for a side beyond desperate to win, they got the job done.
Anthony Milford rose to the occasion in his 150th NRL game, the five-eighth looking a genuine threat attacking the Sharks line and as is often the way with “Milf,” when he shows a run-first mentality, his side offers far more problems for opposing defences. An intriguing move from under-fire coach Anthony Seibold paid immediate dividends for the Broncos, as rampaging winger Corey Oates was deployed in attack as a fullback in place of the veteran Darius Boyd early on. The wrap-around play with Milford finding a swinging Oates 10 metres out was a brilliant use of the big man and a sign the Broncos attack is starting to evolve.
Halfback Kodi Nikorima has been linked with a big-money move to the Warriors and a calf injury will see the Kiwi miss out this week – and if reports are the move may be an immediate one, we may see a glimpse of the Broncos’ future in debutant Tom Dearden. The 18-year-old has huge wraps on him and in becoming the youngest halfback in Broncos history, he has a golden chance to make the famous Broncos’ 7 jersey his own.
Payne Haas continues to show his worth as a future Origin prop, the NSW junior having another impactful game with the Sharkies pack unable to stop the Broncos marching up field. The win sets a fascinating stage for the much-anticipated reunion with ex-coach Wayne Bennett. A loss to a Cronulla side scrambling to field 17 fit players would have ended their season and while there’s a long, long way for the Broncos to go before they’re genuinely in the top 8 mix, they’re approaching the Souths game as underdogs with confidence and some momentum behind them.
Nobody in NRL knows more about Souths hooker Damien Cook’s game than his old coach Seibold and if the Broncos can find a way of stifling Cook’s creativity, they’ll have a shot at consecutive wins for the first time in 2019.
Key stats: Brisbane have won seven straight against the Bunnies. The last time Souths defeated the Broncos in Sydney was 1720 days ago – and counting. Corey Oates has started seven games against Souths and scored every time (11 tries in total). Souths haven’t trailed at half-time in their last five starts.
Best bet: Souths to win first half - $1.73 (Unibet)
Value bet: Corey Oates anytime tryscorer - $2.10 (TAB)