Thursday, August 18 from 7.50pm at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Points start line:
Bulldogs +6 ($1.90 at Sportsbet.com.au)
BOTH teams come into this Thurday night NRL clash in good form – the Broncos have won their last two leading into finals and the Bulldogs have also been impressive, winning their last three.
Many critics are doubting the ability of both teams, especially the Bulldogs, which are winning ugly at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be there. A gritty win last week against the Sea Eagles has put the Bulldogs into a good position on the ladder and they are now fighting for a home semi-final spot.
The Broncos pulled out the stops against the Eels to get its season back on track with a 38-16 victory. The Broncos had been struggling to recapture its early season form as losses to the Panthers and the Roosters threatened to derail its premiership hopes, but back-to-back victories will give Broncos punters confidence heading into this.
Bookmakers have the Broncos as a converted try favourite, but this game should be closely contested between two sides desperate to keep its winning streak alive and the Bulldogs have already smashed the Broncos by 26 points earlier in the season. The Bulldogs will come out a lot stronger than the bookmakers are giving them credit for.
Broncos vs. Bulldogs first try scorer market
Both teams have been strengthened this week with Jordan Kahu returning to the wing for the Broncos, whilst Kiwi international Greg Eastwood returns to the second row for the Bulldogs.
The Broncos field a try-happy outfit which has been scoring at will this season and it’s only the defense which has let the side down. Corey Oates continues to score at will this season with 15 tries from 17 games and Anthony Milford has surprised many with 12 tries of his own.
Kahu is always a try-scoring threat and although he has scored only three tries as a second rower this season, Matt Gillett is worth a shot at good money.
Broncos first try-scorer market:
1. Darius Boyd – $14
2. Corey Oates – $7
3. Tom Opacic – $17
4. James Roberts – $12
5. Jordan Kahu – $11
6. Anthony Milford – $11
7. Ben Hunt – $26
8. Josh McGuire – $51
9. Andrew McCullough – $34
10. Adam Blair – $51
11. Sam Thaiday – $26
12. Matt Gillett – $20
13. Corey Parker – $41
14. Jarrod Wallace – $41
15. Tevita Pangai Junior – not yet priced
16. Jai Arrow – $41
17. Alex Glenn – $26
Corey Oates is the current $7 favourite and will likely be the favourite in the first try-scoring ranks for the rest of the season.
Oates has had a tremendous season out on the wing which has been in part thanks to the try-assist totals of Milford and Hunt. Both have combined for 33 try assists which makes scoring tries for Oates much easier.
Matt Gillett is a $20 chance to score the first try, but he’s $3.75 at Sportsbet to score at anytime during the game. Gillett was a noted try-scorer when he wasn’t playing in the second row, but he is still able to cross the line with his power.
Bulldogs first try-scorer market:
1. Will Hopoate – $15
2. Brett Morris – $9.50
3. Josh Morris – $17
4. Curtis Rona – $17
5. Sam Perrett – $13
6. Josh Reynolds – $26
7. Moses Mbye – $20
8. Aiden Tolman – $61
9. Michael Lichaa – $46
10. James Graham – $46
11. Josh Jackson – $34
12. Greg Eastwood – $34
13. David Klemmer – $46
14. Sam Kasiano – $26
15. Tim Browne – $56
16. Tony Williams – $34
17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner – $34
It took a falcon from Josh Morris to get the Bulldogs try-scoring efforts underway last week against the Sea Eagles and brother Brett Morris was the recipient of some good fortune.
Brett Morris scored his ninth try of the season from only seven games which is why he’s the current $9.50 second favourite. Morris, along with his brother Josh (six tries) are try-scoring threats and both should be in for a good game here.
The inspiration for the Bulldogs has been coming from Josh Reynolds who scored the golden point-winning try against the Sea Eagles. Reynolds scored his seventh try of the season and he’s certainly putting in premium effort which is good to see.
Broncos vs. Bulldogs game prediction
The Broncos have played the Bulldogs on 35 occasions and hold the 19-15 edge, but the most recent outing was a 40-14 win to the Bulldogs.
Suncorp is known to be a fortress for the Broncos, but the Bulldogs have won eight from 17 games played there which isn’t the worse record around.
The early money has been coming for the Broncos on the head-to-head line, but we’re expecting that to even out and money should come for the Bulldogs late.
This game has all the makings of a closely-contested affair and we predict a narrow two-point win for the Broncos which makes the Bulldogs +6 ($1.90 at Sportsbet) to best way to go.
Our match prediction: Broncos 22 – Bulldogs 20
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