Round 1
Cronulla Sharks Vs Brisbane Broncos,
Southern Cross Group Stadium,
2 March 2017, 8:05pm.

Finally the season is kicking off after what seemed like an eternity from the Sharks maiden premiership, through a punishing off season to now the unknown of the NRL Telstra 2017 season.

The first game is shaping up to be a block buster, on one side of the park we have the premieres sporting a new look Spine to a Brisbane team missing one of their back bone players in Corey Parker.

We have said in the past the Spine of a team, Players 1,6,7 and 9 are instrumental in a game. This is where we see a massive advantage to the Brisbane team.

At fullback, G. Beale. A disappointing selection in our opinion, he was found out terribly in the World Club Challenge and we can’t see how his play could dramatically change in a few weeks. We would have preferred to see J. Bird in this position, however we are not the coaching staff. Bookies wise, they quickly changed the odds from the Sharks being favourites to now the Broncos being given that tile, after V. Holmes was rubbed out due to injury. The Sharks silver lining in their Spine is their halves, J. Maloney and local junior C. Townsend. Confidence will be high in their combinations and they will be working behind a large and mobile pack. For us, in this game, the Sharks forwards will need to bend the Brisbane team backwards otherwise it could be a long night. The biggest change to the Sharks Spine is the departure of M. Ennis (you either loved him or hated him) with a new young up and coming (under 20’s player of the year) Hooker J. Brailey. This young man has plenty of wraps on him and has held off veteran D. Mortimer and F. Brown for the starting hooker position. It’s unsure on how long he will play for, but we are expecting around 60 minutes if not more depending on the game situation.

Compare this Spine to the Brisbane and it isn’t as fluid.

Australian full back and now Captain, D. Boyd, had one of his best seasons to date last year. His pass selection was second to none and his timing was impeccable. His young halves in Hunt and Milford are touted as the Cronk and Thurston replacements for Qld, highlighting their potential talent oozing out of this Brisbane team. Their much under rated Hooker, McCullough, is unfortunately born in the Cameron Smith era, a decade later and he would be held a lot higher in representative duties. With K. Nikorima dropping out of the 19 man squad, he could well prove his worth with an 80 minute performance. However it is expected, new Lock J. McGuire, will play a part at Hooker to allow him to have a breather at some stage. For us, Brisbane will need to keep the pressure on G. Beale at the back through their kicking game, if they can keep him out of step, time of possession will grind the sharks down and lead to a first round victory.

With all this in mind, we are leaning towards a Brisbane victory, in a hard battle in the middle, but with Two key positional changes to the Sharks, a more stable Brisbane outfit to win.

Prediction – Brisbane win by 4

Our Free Tip is:
Brisbane Money Line (ML) $1.80 (CROWNBET)
(If your team score the first try but lose the match money back as a bonus with Crownbet)
It’s the start of the season, so we are airing on the side of caution and trying not to be greedy.

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