The Ill-Informed NRL Game Preview

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fLIP

UFO Hunter
Origin is never kind to Brisbane. This time last year the “Baby Broncos”, so called because of the number of inexperienced or debutant players they are forced to field, were flogged 34-14 by Souths, who were able to jettison a12-game losing streak.



This year is no kinder – Brisbane is missing seven players to Origin. They’ll blood two newcomers while five others have played a combined 10 games this year.



But the table-topping Sea Eagles are also under-strength. They’ll field three debutants – including their centres combination in the absence of Jamie Lyon and Steve Matai.



Watch out Sea Eagles: Hard-running centre David Stagg will sort out newcomers Shane Neumann and Nick Bradley-Qualilawa. Watch for the Broncos’ back rowers to scout wide and hit them as well.



Watch out Broncos: Manly’s kickers are the masters at forcing an error – their 14.1 per cent strike rate is the best in the comp.



Where it will be won: The Broncos may struggle to contain the exciting Manly back three. Potent strike weapons Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson and Chris Hicks all figure in the top seven tryscorers for 2007, notching 8, 6 and 6 four-pointers respectively.



The History: Played 26; Sea Eagles 10, Broncos 15, drawn 1. The home side holds the advantage at Brookvale 7-4, and it was the venue for the draw. But the Broncos have won four of the past five encounters, with the home side’s win a 21-20 nail-biter at home in 2005. The Broncos won both games last year, including a 16-10 win at Brookvale.



Conclusion: A Brisbane win would have the stewards swabbing the Manly squad. The visitors’ $4 starting price is their longest in memory and it would appear justified – they’re just missing too many troops who contribute significantly each week. Petero Civoniceva is topping the comp for running metres having clawed 1.5km to date; he’s not there. Neither is Karmichael Hunt, whose 142-metre bursts each game are crucial to their cause. Those two plus Justin Hodges have combined for 433 hit-ups in ’07 – the most by any trio at any club.



Yes the Sea Eagles will miss Brent Kite, Steven Bell, Matai and Lyon but they still have a crucial combination in hooker Michael Monaghan, half Matt Orford, pivot Travis Burns and fullback Stewart that should get them home. The Sea Eagles have won their past seven games at “Fortress Brookvale”. A big Monday night crowd is expected for this one.



Match officials: Referee – Jared Maxwell; Sideline Officials – Mohamad Fajajo & Matt Cecchin; Video ref – Steve Nash.



Televised: FoxSports 3 – live 7pm.
 

ManlyBacker

Winging it
Manly is between $1.22 to $1.27 for this one with generally -10 start. They had better get the attitude right and gears warmed up as they have been starting slowly.
 

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13 7 6 81 18
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