No rugby league fan can wait for Sunday’s premiership decider. Those having a punt will be aware that the Broncos are slight favourites for the game. But here’s five reasons we think the Cowboys can win the big one.
- The Broncos forwards won’t get a free run.
Against the Roosters, the Broncos middle forwards – Sam Thaiday, Adam Blair and Corey Parker – found life easy, rolling up the middle for more than 150 metres a piece. Against the Cowboys they are going to be up against probably the best middle three forwards in the game – James Tamou, Matt Scott and Jason Taumololo.
Not only did these three giants dismantle the Melbourne forwards in defence (no starting Storm forward made more than 100 metres), they turned around and pounded them into submission when in possession. Doing this on Sunday will be an important part of a Cowboy victory.
- The Broncos halves won’t get a free ride in defence
Broncos halves Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt must have considered buying a lottery ticket when the Roosters game plan seemed to not involve sending their big second-rowers at the diminutive halves. This not only meant their relatively weak defence was not exploited, but they were fresh to unleash holy hell when the Broncos had the ball. Which is exactly what they did.
The Cowboys however, have made a living sending Ethan Lowe and Gavin Cooper at the fringes of defences all season. They did it against the Storm last weekend – Cooper had 2 tries, 2 line breaks and a try assist, Lowe over 170 metres – and you know they will try it against the Broncos again. Even if Milford and Hunt stay strong in defence, it will make their day more difficult.
- Jonathon Thurston
Look. The man is a genius. The best player in the game.
Last weekend he had the ball on a string, setting up three tries and basically traumatising the previously stout Melbourne defence. The Broncos will have a plan for him, but really, so does everyone. He’s going find a way to be brilliant.
- Jake Granville and Michael Morgan
Time was that you just had to focus your defence on stopping Thurston and you could stop the Cowboys. But the addition of Granville and Morgan has provided the Cowboys with options in attack.
This means teams have to choose between giving Thurston more space to work, or potentially giving these two too much space. Both tend to their best work for themselves – Granville out of dummy-half, Morgan either running the ball on the right edge, or always being the first person on the end of a half break. If they’re given an opportunity on Sunday they could run riot.
- The Cowboys won’t give them a head start.
One of the most interesting things about the bizarre start to last week’s preliminary final was that it allowed the Broncos to unleash their biggest strength – the grind. With the Roosters playing catch-up footy almost from the beginning of the game, the Broncos didn’t have to be too creative in attack, instead allowing Hunt and Milford to pick and choose their spots (and didn’t they do that well!). I can’t see the Broncos getting a second free-ride on Sunday.
 Scott had 202 metres, Tamou 137 metres and Taumalolo 171 metres.
 In comparison to the people around them.