Tuesday 13 September 2011

NRL Finals 2011 - Brisbane Broncos v St.George-Illawarra Dragons 2nd Elimination Final Preview

7:45pm (Local) Saturday 17 September @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Broncos 13 (Te'o, Copley Tries; Parker 2/4 Goals; Lockyer 1 Field Goal)
Dragons 12 (Cuthbertson, Boyd Tries; Soward 2/2 Goals.)
Quick Game Recap: Darren Lockyer is all class and toughness (plays the final 20 minutes with a possible broken jaw) and his extra time field goal sends the defending premiers packing. Brisbane win 13-12 over the Dragons and move into a Preliminary Final against Manly.
Player of the Finals Points:
4pts - Darren Lockyer (BRI), 2pts - Josh McGuire (BRI), 1pt - Adam Cuthbertson (STI).

NOT The Footy Show Episode 84
- Elimination Finals Preview / Renee Gartner Interview Sept 15, 2011 -

Right Click Save Target As This Link if you don't have iTunes.

What is the Game Plan for Saturday Night Football?
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • Win the ruck. Josh McGuire and Ben Hannant go up against a very good forward pack but one that hasn't been great of late. McGuire is just about the form front rower in the game right now and Hannant has to lift. Throw in Matt Gillett playing a hybrid role, Scott Anderson's solid contributions and young David Hala's 5 minute burst - and the story of this game should be whoever wins the ruck - wins the game.
  • Peter Wallace and Darren Lockyer need to pin the Dragons deep in their own end with long kicks. As mentioned last week - Brett Morris is the least threatening kick returner on the opposition so kick in behind him as often as possible. The kick-chase has to be great - that goes without saying (even though it just got said).
  • The Dragons' don't enjoy second phase play. Corey Parker was our biggest contributor to this part of the game last week - so follow him for the off-loads all night. Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett and Justin Hodges are also great at getting a pass away so Lockyer, Wallace and Gerard Beale - keep your support play switched on.
  • Target Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper on the edges. Instead of hitting forwards on the edges at Beau Scott and Ben Creagh (who thrive with a big defensive workload and get into the game that way) - go a little wider and make the Dragons' centres do the heavy lifting. It'll get results.
  • Run at Nathan Fien, Ben Hornby and Jamie Soward when you get the chance. While they are protected by either props or Scott/Creagh - if you are judicious on your times to run (generally when Scott/Creagh are at marker) you will get results. The Dragons' team defence is really based around the value that Scott/Creagh give them, so do your best to avoid them.
  • Kick HIGH. It worked a treat against the Warriors last week and it will again this week when inside the attacking 20m zone. Darius Boyd is solid but Jason Nightingale has his off-nights and Brett Morris is a 50/50 chance to drop it or not even contest the high ball every time. Exploit it.
  • Focus on this game. Sending Lockyer out a champion would be great but the current champions are in front of the Broncos this week. The focus cannot waver or the defending premiers will pounce.
  • Click here for Brisbane's Game Plan v Warriors in Week 1.
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • Which team shows up for this game? The one that looked set to play the 'Dragon way' in the opening 40 minutes against the Tigers, or the one that couldn't find another gear and got swamped in the last 40 minutes? Wayne Bennett's coaching gets truly tested now this is sudden death. How the players respond will determine their fate.
  • Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby must take over. Soward had his moments in the 1st half (his run to set up Nightingale's try was great) but both he and Hornby have really lacked impact in the back end of the season. Hornby in particular - the key to starting any move on the left - has just seemed content to catch and pass of late. If he take the line on early that will open up space for the likes of Ben Creagh, Darius Boyd, Matt Cooper and if he gets the pill - Brett Morris. Soward on the other hand has to feed Mark Gasnier early and often and take the opportunistic approach that has made him the player he is over the last three years.
  • Beau Scott and Ben Creagh must shut down Alex Glenn, Ben Te'o and Matt Gillett (Brisbane's edge runners). The Broncos' trio had a field day on the edges against the Warriors and even more important for Scott and Creagh is shutting down Corey Parker's off-loads as they broke the Warriors' back a number of times. Normally if the Dragons' duo dominate the edges defensively - the Dragons win.
  • The front row must stand up. This game will be won or lost in the battle up front. St.George-Illawarra has an impressive quartet of props in Michael Weyman, Trent Merrin, Dan Hunt and Jon Green but they weren't a factor in the 2nd half last week. They must make metres and limit the mistakes in order for the Dragons to carry out their game plan. Simple but crucial when it comes to the Dragons.
  • Darius Boyd needs to find the big play when required. He is their go-to man in attack and when the Dragons needed him to come up with something against the Tigers - he couldn't deliver. But that was then, this is now, and he's good enough to make something happen.
  • Nathan Fien needs to play more first receiver. He's a halfback playing hooker and his kicking and passing game is under-rated. Dean Young starting at lock and Fien at hooker is okay, but Fien needs to play big minutes to keep the Brisbane defence on their toes.
  • Believe in the process again. Defensive based structures do have a life-span before the players burn out, but Bennett needs his players to try to squeeze out a little more blood from the stone before he goes.
  • Click here for St.George-Illawarra's Game Plan v Tigers in Week 1.
Get Tickets | Match Info | Game Stats
Coming In... 
3rd Seed BRONCOS defeated Warriors 40-10 in 2nd Qualifying Final.
5th Seed DRAGONS lost to Tigers 21-12 in 1st Qualifying Final.
Head to Head Last 10...
BRONCOS 4 DRAGONS 6 - Brisbane won 21-14 at Suncorp in Round 15 and have actually won 4 of the last 5 games dating back to Round 24, 2009.
Last Time In Finals: The Broncos eliminated the Dragons 24-10 in the Elimination Final of 2009 at Suncorp - as the Dragons went out of the Finals in straight sets despite being Minor Premiers.
Tuesday Team News...
BRI: Beale, Copley Reed, Hodges, Yow Yeh, Lockyer (c), Wallace, McGuire, McCullough, Hannant, Glenn, Te'o, Parker. Bench: Gillett, Hunt, Anderson, Hala.
[Team Changes - The Broncos need to win against the Dragons in order for Sam Thaiday to play again this season. He remains suspended, while Justin Hodges did not complete training on Tuesday due to a hamstring complaint but has been named. The side is 1-17 from last Saturday's 40-10 win over the Warriors in Brisbane. This will definitely be Darren Lockyer's final game at Suncorp. ]
STI: Boyd, Morris, Gasnier, Cooper, Nightingale, Soward, Hornby (c), Hunt, Fien, Weyman, Scott, Creagh, Young. Bench: Green, Prior, Cuthbertson, Merrin, Rein.
[Team Changes - The Dragons will start Dean Young at lock on the team sheet this week after he replaced Matt Prior from the bench the last two games. Nathan Fien has been listed to start at hooker, with Mitch Rein moving back to the bench. Adam Cuthbertson seems to be fighting Jon Green or Rein for the final bench spot. The rest of the starting side is unchanged. ]
Wednesday Game Preview...
This will definitely be Darren Lockyer's last game at Suncorp Stadium - win or lose and the way the Broncos took full advantage of the Warriors ineptness last week - they deserve to enter this game as favourites. But they are playing the defending premiers and the Dragons did play very well for 40 minutes last week. But they also got convincingly beaten in the 2nd half against the Tigers and mentally look shot. Although Lockyer finishing his career with a Grand Final is a fairytale way to end things - if his younger team-mates start thinking too far ahead, the Dragons will make them pay. A good start is crucial for the Dragons, while Lockyer's boys won't be out of it even if they trail at halftime. Should be a good'n
.To  find out the Panel's tips and why they are tipping them - listen to the Podcast or watch the Tipping Video here.
Tipping + Fantasy Late Mail... 
SMH and Other Late Mail 16/09 - The Dragons appear to be full strength, while the Broncos have concerns over Justin Hodges (hip/hammy) after he left training early on Tuesday.
The NRL Tweet's Tip... 
BRONCOS To Win By 2 Points.
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Toyota Cup:
#4 v #6  - Winner to play the Warriors.
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13/09 Odds for Elimination Finals are courtesy of Sportingbet Australia - Line Varies.
1st Elimination Final
$1.35 v $3.257:45pm Fri @ SFS | LINE: WAR +8.5 GAME STATS
Winner advances to 2nd Preliminary Final against Melbourne on Saturday Week.
2nd Elimination Final
$1.68 v $2.207:45pm Sat @ Suncorp | LINE: STI +2.5 GAME STATS
Winner advances to 1st Preliminary Final against Manly on Friday Week.
Waiting in Week 3:

The best NRL Preview on the net kicks into gear for the Finals with all the info you need to make an 'informed tipping decision' or feel better about your team's chances in September.
Make sure you bookmark www.wdnicolson.com and compare your picks to the Podcast Panel's Tips all month long and make sure you grab the Podcast every Thursday. Check back on Friday for the Latest Mail as it breaks.
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NOT The Footy Show 2011
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