7.35pm (AEST), Friday, April 17
WIN Jubilee Oval, Sydney
Arguably the two form teams in the competition go head to head on Friday night, with two lengthy winning streaks going on the line in this unlikely blockbuster.
Tyson Frizell’s suspension sees Will Matthews come into the second-row in the only change to the Saints’ squad. Justin Hodges returns from injury, pushing Dale Copley back out to the wing and Corey Oates to the bench, with the suspended Jarrod Wallace the player dropping out of the 17.
Brisbane holds a 19-13 lead over the St George Illawarra joint venture, including a 10-5 record as the away side. The Broncos are currently on an eight-match winning streak against the Dragons, but this is their first visit to WIN Jubilee since 2007 and they have not won there since 1998. This is Wayne Bennett’s first match against his former Saints side since returning to Brisbane; the legendary mentor has won just two of his last 14 coaching in Broncos-Dragons matches.
The Broncos have won five straight, culminating in last Friday’s nail-biting 22-18 golden point triumph. Despite a few injury problems, the Broncos have gone from strength to strength. Their defensive steel and attacking enterprise are both gathering momentum, while the team’s ability to close out matches has improved markedly from last season. The Dragons have won four on the trot, crafting the best defensive record in the competition while finally unleashing a dominant attacking performance in their 31-6 dismantling of under-strength Canterbury. The Saints are ranked first in defence and 15th in attack, while the table-topping Broncos are third and seventh respectively.
Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt underlined his match-winning class with a dazzling golden point try against the Roosters, but he is still looking to eliminate the errors from his game – a kick out on the full during extra-time could have cost his side victory. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Benji Marshall is in tremendous touch, producing a ball-playing master-class against the Bulldogs. The clash of the No.7s will go a long way to deciding the outcome this weekend.
Stats That Matter
The Broncos are 12-16 on the road (15-13 against the start) since the beginning of 2013, while they are 6-3 overall and against the line as away favourites. The Broncos have a 9-13 record (12-10 ATS) interstate over the last three seasons. The Dragons are 11-15 – overall and against the line – as the home side from 2013-15, and just 5-10 (6-9 ATS) as home outsiders. The Saints are 4-6 (3-7 ATS) at WIN Jubilee over the last three seasons. Four of the last five Broncos-Dragons matches have produced 48-plus points; six of the last eight have featured winning margins of eight or less.
This should be a cracking encounter between two defensively sound sides who don’t mind using the ball. Frizell is a big out for the Saints and Hodges a huge inclusion for the Broncos, both changes tipping the scales towards the visitors. The Broncos’ all-star pack is bigger and better than anything the Dragons have encountered in recent weeks. Consider the 1-12 margins for each side and the under.
How It’s Shaping Up
Broncos by 4
Broncos to win ($1.67)
Other Recommended Bets
Broncos 1-12 ($3.20)
2015 NRL Round 7 Betting Preview for St George-Illawarra vs Brisbane thanks to William Hill Australia.
St George-Illawarra vs Brisbane Comparison Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 7 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.