CEN­TRE CAN GIVE EDGE TO BRON­COS

NT News - - MAD MONDAY - MUR­RAY WEN­ZEL

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.

Pic­tures: ADAM HEAD and AL­BERT PEREZ

James Roberts scores dur­ing the NRL semi-fi­nal be­tween the Bris­bane Bron­cos and the Pen­rith Pan­thers at Sun­corp Sta­dium; In­set: Bron­cos vet­eran Sam Thai­day

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