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Dragons vs. Broncos NRL tips, best bets & tryscorer odds

  • MATCH UP STATS

    Round 1 - Dragons vs. Broncos

    • 2017 finish

      St George Illawarra Dragons: Ninth (12-12)
      Brisbane Broncos: Third (16-8)
    • Premiership odds

      St George Illawarra Dragons: $13 at Sportsbet
      Brisbane Broncos: $15 at Sportsbet

8:05pm AEDT Thursday, March 8 at Jubilee Oval

THE St George Illawarra Dragons have a point to prove in 2018.

After shocking the competition with their fast start last year, Mary McGregor’s men wound up missing the finals after a series of poor performances on the run home.

The clincher was a cataclysmic defeat to the Canterbury Bulldogs that saw them slip out of the eight on the last weekend of the home-and-away season.

Nevertheless, there is an air of optimism around Kogarah and Wollongong these days.

The signing of England prop James Graham adds great leadership, experience and depth to a foreboding forward pack, but it is Ben Hunt who has tongues wagging ahead of round one.

The ex-Bronco copped it from all angles when he attended the recent wedding of close friend and former teammate Andrew McCullough.

He is expecting more of the same in Thursday night’s NRL season opener against his old side.

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“They were saying ‘Righto, round one. We will be coming for you’ and stuff like that,” Hunt told reporters last week.

“All the boys were getting into me a bit, all in good fun.

“It’s something I never thought I would want to do but I am actually looking forward to it.

“There is going to be a bit of banter and bit of fun in the game between the boys so it is going to be a real challenge.”

McCullough is a big in for the Brisbane Broncos after missing the back half of 2017 with a busted knee.

He will start on the bench, with Sam Thaiday lining up at hooker.

Broncos boss Wayne Bennett experimented with Corey Oates on the second row in pre-season trials, but it is expected the Queensland rep will start on the wing as per usual.

Gareth Widdop tryscorer tips

Odds courtesy of Sportsbet.com.au

The Broncos will be gunning for old mate Hunt from the first whistle, but might that mean his esteemed halves partner slips under the radar? The St George skipper looks a very handy tryscoring option in a team where penetration from the wings is not a strong suit.

Best bets for Corey Oates

Odds courtesy of Sportsbet.com.au

This guy will be eager to impress after a horror 2017 in which he was axed from State of Origin, hospitalised with a staph infection and knocked out cold in a nasty clash with his own teammate, Anthony Milford. The second row might be his aim, but for now Oates is Brisbane’s main man on the flank.

Who wins – Dragons or Broncos?

This is a fascinating matchup between two teams that could be jostling for position in the eight come August. Besides home ground advantage, the Dragons have a few big recruits and a real sense of purpose. That’s where our money is going.

Top tip: St George Illawarra by 1-12 points (+215 at William Hill)
 

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