Round 9: Broncos v Bulldogs preview
Up and down Broncos face struggling Doggies
There's nothing consistent about Brisbane's season. They've won two of their last five - downing an in-form South Sydney and undefeated (at the time) Warriors outfit in Rounds 6 and 8. In amongst that were losses to the Titans, Knights and Storm. Where this places them coming into Thursday's game against Canterbury is anyone's guess.
The blue and whites... what to say? They certainly haven't shamed themselves in the last few weeks - they led Penrith last round, kept the Roosters to just six points a fortnight ago and notched their second win against the Cowboys prior to that. Overall they just look short of being able to seriously challenge the decent sides. They've proven twice they're capable of entertaining, solid footy but otherwise they still seem to have a Hasler hangover - an inability to score points and a tendency to fade late in games.
For Brisbane, part of the inconsistency has been to do with their roster. They're yet to field the same lineup week-to-week over eight rounds this season, and this week will be no different as Josh McGuire is out through injury, replaced by regular hooker Andrew McCullough, who returns early from injury. On the other side, Canterbury have made a single change to the side that lost to Penrith last weekend, with Greg Eastwood omitted in favour of Clay Priest on the bench.
These sides have met on 52 occasions since 1988, with Brisbane ahead 29-22 in the head-to-head wins stat. Strangely enough at Lang Park it's Canterbury who have the ledger in their balance with 8 wins from 15 matches. These sides shared the honours last season with Canterbury winners in Round 5 in a low-scoring contest before Brisbane turned it around with a big victory in Round 20.
Who to watch: There's no one player to watch here - the battle of the engine rooms will be the highlight here if they both fire up. Brisbane's Lodge, Thaiday, Pangai Junior and bench rotation including Haas and Sims will be a serious test for Klemmer, Woods, Jackson, and Faitala Mariner. Former Raiders forward Clay Priest has returned from injury and is named in the interchange list as well, so it will be interesting to see what he offers given the 'Dogs apparent lack of depth.
Canterbury's forwards, like last year, seem more than capable of racking up the big stats but whether they actually have meaningful impact is another matter. Then of course, there's the matter of how their halves take advantage of the platform they lay - if they can lay any.