Two of the most physical teams in the NRL clash tonight as the Brisbane Broncos host the Manly Sea Eagles in a Friday night blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium. Join us for live scores and commentary from 8.00pm AEDT.
Despite their poor finish to last year, the Broncos are traditionally strong starters and should be primed for a big performance against Manly tonight.
Brisbane will be keen to avenge their last-minute defeat to the Sea Eagles at Suncorp in 2012, when David Williams scored the match winning try with just seconds remaining.
That contest rightfully ranked as one of the games of the year last season and we should expect something of similar quality tonight from both teams.
The biggest question mark for Brisbane, however, surrounds whether or not they have the firepower necessary to outscore a Manly team that possesses game-breakers across the park.
New recruit Scott Prince is really going to have to play well tonight if he is to provide Peter Wallace with the necessary support in the halves to spark the Broncos attack.
Both Brisbane and Manly are known for their ability to outmuscle opposition, so the battle up front should be a highlight tonight.
Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire, Ben Hannant, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett will lead the way against a classy Sea Eagles forward line containing Glenn Stewart, Anthony Watmough, Brent Kite and Jason King.
Despite their strong depth in the forwards, it will be interesting to see how the Broncos fare without Ben Te’o.
Te’o was by far the Broncos most lethal forward last year and his ability to punch a hole through defences, particularly on the edges, will be missed.
Gillett and Alex Glenn will have to raise their games significantly if they are to provide the Broncos with the same punch down the edges that Te’o provided during his time in Brisbane.
The Sea Eagles on the other hand remain a very balanced side, despite losing some promising players during the off-season, and will provide Brisbane’s defence with a solid workout tonight if their top guns fire.
Brett Stewart remains a try scoring freak and Manly halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans will need to be kept under wraps by Brisbane’s defence.
Broncos centres Justin Hodges and Alex Glenn will also have their work cut out trying to contain Jamie Lyon in attack.
Across the park Manly appear to have Brisbane’s measure but the Broncos are a tough nut to crack early in the season, particularly at home, ensuring a close contest tonight.
If the Sea Eagles can stand toe-to-toe with Brisbane’s big forwards, the experience and skill in their backline should prove to be the decisive factor in earning Manly a tight win.
Sea Eagles by 6.