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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Broncos look to carry strong form into finals
There isn't much writing on Saturday night's clash between the Broncos and Bulldogs.
Realistically, a victory for Brisbane guarantees that no shifty deal can be done between the Sharks and Tigers who will be playing for a top-eight spot.
Just as important though is that they take much-needed confidence into the finals. Anthony Seibold's men have lost just two of their past nine games, the defeats coming at the hands of Melbourne and South Sydney.
This week's meeting with the Bulldogs will still present a challenge as Canterbury will be intent on building on their late-season form and claiming another big scalp.
In saying all of that, the Broncos entered last year's finals series off the back of three-straight wins, including victories over top-four sides the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
Jake Turpin returns in the halves in place of Sean O'Sullivan, who unfortunately drops out of the team after an impressive stint.
While Canterbury's slim finals hopes may be over, the can play spoilers once again after taking down highly-rated opponents in the past month.
The Bulldogs were outplayed last week by the Cowboys and although their defence was strong as per usual, it was their attack that proved their downfall like it has all year.
What doesn't help their cause is that this week they will be without dynamic fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who is out with a knee injury.
Will Hopoate replaces him with Morgan Harper debuting in the centres. Kerrod Holland (shoulder) is also out and his spot is taken by Reimis Smith who returns from suspension.
Last meeting: Round 18 2019 - Broncos 28 Bulldogs 6
The Broncos won 28-6 at Suncorp Stadium in Round 18 earlier this year.
Who to watch: Kieran Foran has really come into his own in recent weeks and could provide the Bulldogs with the edge against Brisbane's still relatively new halves combination. Foran's attempts to recapture his form have been dogged by injuries in recent years. But the 29-year old has began to show signs of improvement since returning three weeks ago against South Sydney. While halves partner Lachlan Lewis provides grunt in defence, Foran has both the flair and toughness needed to spark Canterbury in attack.
Darius Boyd has certainly had his critics but he silenced them last week with a man-of-the-match performance. Boyd, who scored a try in the win over the Eels, backed himself more and seemed more confident of his role in the team. With a dominant forward pack, Brisbane need Boyd and Turpin to deliver consistently if they will do anything in the finals.
The favourite: The Broncos are favourites away from home.
My tip: While there may be little riding on this, you feel like Brisbane will just have too many points and run away with it late. Broncos by 16.
1. Will Hopoate 2. Nick Meaney 3. Morgan Harper 4. Reimis Smith 5. Jayden Okunbor 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Adam Elliott 14. Jack Cogger 15. Renouf To'omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Chris Smith
1. Anthony Milford 5. Jamayne Isaako 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Alex Glenn 2. Corey Oates 6. Darius Boyd 7. Jake Turpin 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Matt Gillett 13. Patty Carrigan 14. James Segeyaro 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Izaia Perese 17. Rhys Kennedy
Referees: Grant Atkins, Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Clayton Sharpe, Liam Nicholls; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Beau Scott;