With only three wins between them this season, Saturday night’s clash between the Brisbane Broncos and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium threatens to turn into a mockbuster.
Nearing the halfway point of this shortened season, the sides sit in 14th and 16th place on the ladder respectively, with the Broncos the only team to have not won a match since the season resumed in May and the Bulldogs’ lone win coming against the Dragons in Round 4.
Of course all the heat has been on the Broncos and coach Anthony Seibold after the side crashed to their sixth consecutive loss last Saturday against the Warriors, marking their longest losing streak in a single season since they lost their final seven matches of the 2005 season, including the two finals they played.
In the match against the Warriors they led 10-0 in the shadows of half-time and were 16-12 going into the final ten minutes before they capitulated to lose 22-12.
In stark contrast to the rather farcical scenes we saw at Suncorp Stadium on 27 June, when players were seen sharing a laugh with their Titans rivals after their embarrassing 30-12 defeat, the Broncos were unable to keep their emotions in check upon the full-time siren.
— Brisbane Broncos (@brisbanebroncos) July 4, 2020
It is starting to become clear that the winning drought is starting to take its toll on a club that was once the most dominant club in the NRL.
CEO Paul White has also come out on the front foot recently, stating that Anthony Seibold will not be sacked in the short term, though he did also state that there are performance clauses in his contract that could be triggered towards the end of it if results do not improve.
But if you thought Seibold had it tough, spare a thought for third-year Bulldogs coach Dean Pay, whose future has been a constant topic of discussion following his side’s poor start to the season.
Off-field issues, poor form and injuries see the boys from Belmore sit in dead last on the ladder with only one win for the season.
Last week they were kept on the back foot for the entire match against Souths, losing 26-10 and losing forward Adam Elliott to a shoulder injury that could keep him out for a while.
That followed on from heavy defeats to the Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers on either side of a gut-wrenching 20-18 loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Round 6.
They’ll go into their match against the Broncos buoyed by the fact they beat them by 30-14 at ANZ Stadium in the final round last year, which capped off a strong finish to the season in which they won seven of their final ten matches to finish 10-14 for the year.
The Broncos, however, won their last duel at Suncorp Stadium in Round 18 last year by the scoreline of 28-6 and haven’t lost to the Bulldogs at home since 2015.
With both coaches under pressure after presiding over their sides’ dismal first half of the 2020 season, expect both the Broncos and Bulldogs to come out firing, especially in the early stages.
Not only will the Broncos have the advantage of playing at home, but they will also be cheered on by up to 10,000 fans, with restrictions in Queensland easing to the point where stadiums can be filled by either 10,000 fans, or 25 per cent of the ground’s capacity, whichever is the lesser.
The fans will also be owed a much-improved performance by their side after they were famously booed off at half-time in the Round 7 match against the Titans, which marked the Broncos’ worst ever defeat to their M1 neighbours.
So after six straight losses can the Broncos turn a corner, or will the Bulldogs inflict more misery on the NRL’s one-time glamour club and send them to the bottom of the ladder this Saturday night?