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globalrugbyleague - Mon, 23 Jul 2007 08:57:00 GMT
The GRL Phantom believes the Broncos and Eels match could very well determine the fortunes of each team's grand final chances next Monday at Suncorp Stadium.

The Broncos have lost plenty with champion Darren Lockyer. And I don't have the room on the net to explain it – other then to say it's a monumental blow.

Lockyer is the best player in the game, Johnathan Thurston is number two and Cameron Smith number three. There isn't a struck match between the trio.

Needless to say if the Cowboys and Storm lost Thurston or Smith their premiership odds blow like a gale.

Tonie Carroll has been named as five-eighth in place of the injured Lockyer. That's a smart move. Michael Ennis is at half


Carroll will maintain his right hand side defensive position as when Lockyer plays he defends inside the great man and protects him from big forwards aiming down this side of the field.

Brent Tate is another big loss - also with a knee injury like Lockyer and Justin Hodges - the game's best centre and in the GRL Phantom's top ten NRL players (my top ten list shall be published on Global Rugby League soon) is out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.

In attack the Brisbane forwards, who rarely pass inside their own half will belt the ball forward and rely on a good kicking game from Shaun Berrigan to get the team down field.

In recent years, Parramatta, has had the ''wood'' on the Broncos, because the style of game they play tends to worry them.

Parramatta have plenty of strike power and speed in the backs and a powerful not to mention skillfull forward pack.

Michael Hagan has built upon the Brian Smith school of having all players multi-skilled in attack and defence.

The Eels are the genuine darkhorse in the premiership. On their day they have the attack and defence and personnel to worry Melbourne, Manly and the Cowboys.

Against Souths they were guilty at times of ``not doing the hard work'' . By that I mean, taking the ball forward, diving on the loose ball, being prepared to be patient.

The score line flattered Souths as the Eels bombed four tries yet looked in control.

But I was impressed with the goal line defence of the Eels - an area which they have improved as the season has rolled on.

I like the Eels chances of stopping Brisbane's five match winning streak, based upon their kicking game, goal line defence and clever angle runs around the rucks.


Brisbane are still vulnerable defensively in this area.


Teams have to be patient and keep working the Broncos' big men over and over around the play the ball.

The Eels will kick in between the Broncos' wingers and fullback to ``keep the ball in play.''


This tactic is designed to keep the speed of the game up tempo and force the Broncos' big forwards dragging themselves back downfield.

The Broncos will prefer to kick deep and for touch to slow the game down and give their players a necessary ``breather.''

The Eels are very good in broken play. Luke Burt (injured) has been in mighty form and is one of the best broken field runners like Matt Bowen from the Cowboys.


The Verdict:


Eels to win by eleven.
Forecast Man of the match: Jarryd Hayne (Eels)
Fan of the Match: Any NSW based Eels supporter who drives up to Suncorp. - Read More, Here