After upstaging the previously unbeaten Warriors on their own turf last week, the Broncos are bracing for an equally tough assignment at home against the reigning premiers.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Brisbane fans was the season-high 27 points the Broncos posted against the Warriors – a vast improvement on the measly 11 points they averaged per game over the previous three rounds. Winger Jamayne Isaako had the best game of his brief career with a personal haul of 18 points from two tries and five goals.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy liked what he saw in Ryley Jacks’ handling of the halfback role and will be keen to see how he copes with a hostile road venue like Suncorp Stadium.
Key match-up: They might not come into contact too often but the battle of the fullbacks – Darius Boyd and Billy Slater – looms as an interesting subplot to what is somewhat of a trial for Queensland Origin spots. Boyd had a blinder against the Warriors last week, while Slater was at the forefront of his team’s big win over Newcastle.
For the Broncos to win: Plagued by inconsistency over the opening six rounds, Brisbane have to prove last week’s win was no fluke. If they defend like we know they can and halfback Anthony Milford plays to his potential, the Broncos are certainly capable of springing an upset.
For the Storm to win: While there was plenty to like about their thrashing of Newcastle, Melbourne have been patchy from week to week. If they hold the Broncos up front, the Storm should have too much class in Slater, Cam Smith and Cameron Munster.
Broncos stat attack: The Broncos have won 12 of their past 15 home games, though their last appearance at Suncorp Stadium ended in a surprise loss to the Titans three weeks ago. On a positive note Brisbane are the NRL’s least penalised team.
Storm stat attack: If history is any guide, the Storm are specials to win on Friday. They have won 13 of their past 15 clashes with the Broncos and haven’t tasted defeat at Suncorp Stadium since 2009. Coach Craig Bellamy won’t like the fact Melbourne are the NRL’s most error-prone team this season with an average of 13.7 per game.
And another thing: Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr scored five tries in three games against the Broncos last year. Addo-Carr has been hot and cold this season but probably had his best game in last week’s trouncing of the Knights.
Prediction: Storm by 16
Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm, 7.55pm Friday at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 18 Tom Opacic, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Jack Bird, 7 Anthony Milford, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Tevita Pangai jnr, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Korbin Sims, 13 Josh McGuire
Interchange: 14 Sam Thaiday, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Kodi Nikorima, 17 Jaydn Su’a
Reserves: 18 Jonus Pearson, 19 Troy Dargan, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 Payne Haas
Jack Bird has held onto a spot in the halves with Kodi Nikorima (corked thigh) returning on the bench in place of Sam Tagataese. Tevita Pangai jnr starts at prop for Sam Thaiday (bench). Matt Lodge has overcome a rib injury to start.
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Tim Glasby
Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Christian Welch, 17 Sam Kasiano
Reserves: 18 Young Tonumaipea, 19 Joe Stimson, 20 Patrick Kaufusi, 21 Brodie Croft
Will Chambers returns from suspension at centre in place of Young Tonumaipea.
Head-to-head: Played 43; Storm 29 wins; Broncos 13 wins; 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 15; Storm 12 wins; Warriors 3 wins
2017 results: Storm won 14-12 at AAMI Park in round 3, 42-12 at Suncorp Stadium in round 17 and 30-0 at AAMI Park in Finals Week 3
Points per game: Broncos 16; Storm 21.3
Points conceded per game: Broncos 20; Storm 13.5
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League