CENTRE CAN GIVE EDGE TO BRONCOS
BRISBANE forward Sam Thaiday knows his side will have to make vast improvements to come close to matching the Melbourne Storm on Friday, but he says the Broncos have a weapon in their arsenal capable of propelling them to victory.
Thaiday declared himself fit after passing an in-game concussion test following a head knock in the final stages of Friday night’s 13-6 NRL semi-final defeat of Penrith at Suncorp Stadium.
And after the win he welcomed James Roberts’ return to form, the flying centre back to his best with a crucial second-half try to send the Broncos on their way.
“It was great to see that the jet came out of the hangar tonight,” Thaiday said of Roberts, who now has 17 tries this season.
“His try was absolutely fantastic; his change of speed and way he hit that hole was great and hopefully that can continue.”
Minor premiers Melbourne are red-hot favourites to go all the way this season and will start at short odds to beat the Broncos.
But in Roberts the Broncos at least possess a weapon the Storm will have to negotiate if they are to progress from AAMI Park’s preliminary final.
“He’s a game-breaker and that’s what you need in big games,” Thaiday said.
“He turned it for us tonight; we were a little bit scratchy at the start of the second half, then he scores his try and that breaks Penrith’s heart a little bit.”
While Brisbane’s defence held tight, a below-par 69 per cent completion rate was still cause for concern.
“I’m happy with that effort, but we made it hard for ourselves and turned over a lot of cheap ball,” Thaiday said.
“We cannot do that next week.”
Predicting Brisbane will fight fire with fire, Thaiday said his forwards would need to bring aggressive intent to Melbourne.
“A couple of their players did admit they were a bit rattled (in last weekend’s close defeat of Parramatta).
“If we can match it with their big boys, make them come out of their own end, we can go a long way to winning the game.”
Melbourne and Brisbane clashed in the 2006 grand final when the Broncos upset minor premiers Storm 15-8.
James Roberts scores during the NRL semi-final between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium; Inset: Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday