Cronulla Sharks vs. Brisbane Broncos
MATCH UP STATS
Cronulla Sharks vs. Brisbane Broncos
Premiership odds:Cronulla Sharks: $15 @ Sportsbet.com.auBrisbane Broncos: $12 @ Sportsbet.com.au
Line betting:Cronulla Sharks: -1.5 ($1.90 @ Sportsbet.com.au)Brisbane Broncos: +1.5 ($1.90 @ Sportsbet.com.au)
Thursday, March 2, 8.05pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
THE Cronulla Sharks will begin the task of defending the 2016 NRL premiership when they take on the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night.
The Sharks scored an incredible 14-12 win over the Melbourne Storm in last year’s final, but punters are always weary of the hangover that can typically follow next season.
The Sharks’ premiership odds of $15 suggest that bookmakers are expecting a lull season, and we would have to agree. Enigmatic hooker Michael Ennis won’t be there, neither will fullback Ben Barba, who provided some excitement at the back.
Valentine Holmes suffered a hamstring strain during the pre-season, which could see him out for Thursday’s clash, which will take plenty of sting out of the Sharks back line.
The Broncos have won seven from 17 games at this stadium and it will be looking at week one to kick-start its season. They start with the Sharks before taking on the Cowboys and Storm in consecutive weeks, which makes getting on the board this Thursday a must-have.
New Broncos captain Darius Boyd said his team is relishing the tough start to the new season.
“It doesn’t get any harder than that for the start of the season and it’d be good to test ourselves to see where we’re at,” Boyd said.
“One thing with a successful club you’re always going to have pressure on you, it never changes.”
The Broncos have a team which could go all the way in 2017. It has lost the likes of Corey Parker and Jack Reed to retirement, but the replacements add youth and experience to the roster.
The biggest off-season acquirement as Benji Marshal from the Dragons. The highly-criticised pick adds plenty of experience in the Broncos backline and we’re excited to see what he can offer this season.
The halves-pairing of Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt will largely decide how the Broncos perform this season. If those two are playing professionally throughout the season, they’re good enough to lead the Broncos all the way.
Sharks vs. Broncos game prediction
Both teams have positives in their favour, but we can’t overlook the depth of the Broncos roster.
The opening game of the season can always throw in a surprise result and punters won’t know what to expect, but we think the Broncos come out humming.
New recruits David Mead and Tautau Moga had some more excitement to the squad which is shaping up like a premiership-contending side and with the amount of international experience in the squad, the Broncos are a team to watch this season.
The Sharks played great league throughout the season last year and playing at home will have its obvious advantages, but we would want a better price than $1.80 to take the inferior team on paper.
This game should be close, however, and one or two brilliant plays from the halves could decide the game either way.
Stick with the Broncos at the even-money price and enjoy what should be another great start to the NRL season.
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