As a club, the Storm are no strangers to the big stage having appeared in nine preliminary finals over the last 12 years however as Billy Slater said on Tuesday, “if you’re not nervous at this time of the year, it doesn’t mean enough to you.”
The Broncos head into Melbourne with a dismal record against Wayne Bennett’s former protégé and his men having won just 4 out of 23 matches since the 2006 decider.
Speed and decisiveness is what will give the Broncos a red-hot chance – both with and without the ball – this Friday night as the likes of James Roberts and Jordan Kahu must use their quickness and agility to their advantage while their back rowers need to pressure Melbourne’s mobile big men at the line in order to give themselves the best chance to upset the heavy favourites.
Melbourne remain unchanged from their nail-biting win over the Eels a fortnight ago in what many believe is a blueprint on how to take down the Storm juggernaut. Darius Boyd’s inclusion is a massive boost for the Broncos while Tevita Pangai Junior gives them some added muscle on the bench.
Both sides are capable of racking up a big score and have proven that over the course of the season and it is both sides right edge doing much of the damage. Together, they have score an astonishing 89 tries in 2017 on the right side of their attack with Suliasi Vunivalu and Corey Oates doing much of the damage. Oates, at this stage, has passed all precautions necessary to line up this Friday following a sickening collision last weekend in what will prove to be a big match up between the two wingers.
Will Chambers and James Roberts both have had elite seasons in the centres and are also a big reason as to why both teams have been successful down that side of the field. Defensively is where the problem lies for the Broncos as they’ve conceded 33 tries to Melbourne’s 18 in that part of the field.
With Benji Marshall returning to the bench, both of Brisbane’s halves will have the chance to put on a show against the very side that put in big offers for their talents in recent months. Anthony Milford’s finals series has been somewhat subdued so far while Kodi Nikorima excelled at the back in Boyd’s absence. Finally, Ben Hunt will need to continue his impressive run of form if he’s to extend his Bronco career by one more game.
The Storm are the best side in the league – they’ve scored the most points and conceded the least – but a side with belief can take down anyone on their day and that’s exactly what the Broncos have right now.
For Brisbane, to them, it doesn’t matter what personnel take the park as they believe as a collective that they can get the job done. In saying that, in a game that will mark the final time Melbourne’s Big 3 run out together at AAMI Park, it’ll be mighty hard to end Cooper Cronk’s Melbourne career in front of over 25,000 adoring fans.
Storm by 12.
|T. Pangai Junior||15|