NRL Round 18: Broncos v Bulldogs Preview & Betting Tips

A desperate Brisbane coming off a rare draw host the improving Canterbury to kickoff round 18 from Suncorp Stadium.

James Baxter
Wed, 17 Jul, 12:00 AM

Brisbane Broncos v Canterbury Bulldogs – Suncorp Stadium 7:50pm

Brisbane kept their season mathematically alive with an 18-all draw at home to the Warriors. The Broncos ran their socks off in an extremely competitive effort but their sustained lack of consistent execution cost them a win they needed to have anything close to a realistic shot at the finals.

Instead they now likely need eight wins from their last nine matches but if their past fortnight has shown, Anthony Seibold’s young side aren’t giving up without a fight after they were staring down the barrel of the worst season in Bronco history. Tevita Pangai Junior had a notable form slump with speculation over his playing future but with a new Broncos deal, the backrower had a mammoth night and was one of his side’s best.

David Fifita’s amazing burst for a try was another highlight and adds to the Maroon’s growing reputation as a gamebreaker on the edge. The overall star though again was Payne Haas, the ex-Blues prop playing beyond his years with another impactful game in Brisbane’s engine. His desperate try-saving tackle on Chanel Harris-Tavita in golden point deserves to be in any “tackle of the year” discussions, especially considering how fresh the Warrior bench player was compared to him.

The mid-year addition of James Segeyaro has certainly spiced up Brisbane’s ruck and Seibold seems to be favouring when to introduce the PNG international for starting veteran hooker Andrew McCullough. And the rotation of Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd continued, Boyd notching a try at five-eighth while Milford looked more comfortable at the back, picking his spots to attack.

Should Brisbane miss the finals then 2019 will hardly be remembered for positive reasons at Red Hill but if their young talent continue to develop under Seibold from here on out, it’ll at least give them a considerable confidence boost for 2020.

Are the Bulldogs finding their rhythm? Dean Pay’s side have consecutive wins for the first time since round 24, 2018 after they ambushed Newcastle 20-14. Attacking flourishes have rarely been sighted from Canterbury under Pay but as the Tigers, Sharks and Knights will attest, the Dogs are capable of stringing together tries in a surprisingly quick fashion.

It appeared early on Newcastle would grind their way to a win courtesy of their 8-0 buffer but when James Gavet had a brain melt and copped a bin for his late hit on Chris Smith, Canterbury sprung into life. Brandon Wakeham got a taste of NRL in his debut off the bench against the Sharks but the Fijian playmaker was the catalyst for two tries inside five frantic minutes.

There’s been an over-reliance on Kieran Foran in the Dogs’ attack, somewhat understandably given the inexperience the likes of Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis have. Yet Wakeham might just be the man to provide the attacking flair the Dogs sorely need and with Dallin Waetene-Zelezniak settling in nicely at fullback, Canterbury are starting to discover their groove.

The win was even greater considering big men Aiden Tolman (ribs) and Sauaso Sue (knee) left the game early, and with Gold Coast imploding the Dogs are now off the wooden spoon spot. It’s still very much a rebuilding project for the Dogs but their past fortnight has been highly promising and at a time where some clubs are limping towards their season being over, Canterbury’s self-belief is remarkably picking up.

Key stats:

The last time Canterbury won 3 straight was round 26, 2017.

- The Bulldogs haven’t beaten Brisbane away since 2015.

- Brisbane’s last 5 matches at Suncorp see them with a 3-1-1 record.

- The last 6 matches between these sides have seen the home team win.

- As a starting winger Corey Oates has 7 tries in 8 matches against the Doggies.

- In the 9 matches Brisbane have played at Suncorp in 2019, the average match points total is 37.75.

Tip: Broncos

Best bet: Corey Oates anytime tryscorer - $1.90* (TAB)

Value bet: Broncos -6.5/over 36.5 match points - $2.63* (Sportsbet)

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