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NRL: Top spot firmly in Broncos' sights

Thursday evening's NRL clash between Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm could turn out be a dress rehearsal for the grand final.

The Broncos sit top of the ladder and, if all goes to plan, they will wrap up the minor premiership ahead of the Penrith Panthers, who are two points behind in second.

The Storm have fourth spot locked in, so it will be interesting to see if they rest any of their key players ahead of finals.

Momentum can be key at this stage of the season however, and whoever wins this one will be given a big boost heading into finals.

A massive crowd will be expected at Suncorp Stadium and there is no better way to kick off the final round of the regular season.

WhatBrisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm
WhereSuncorp Stadium, Brisbane
When19:50 (AEST), Thursday 31st August 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsBrisbane Broncos 1.33, Melbourne Storm 3.35

Reynolds the key for Broncos

The Broncos have been outstanding all season and are on course to wrap up their first minor premiership in over 20 years.

They have lost just five games all season and have won the last seven on the bounce. Therefore, it is no surprise they are many peoples hot fancies to go on and win the premiership.

Kevin Walters’ side can be backed at 2.90 to do so, while the Panthers are priced at 2.62.

The key to Brisbane’s chances of going all the way could hinge on the fitness of experienced playmaker Adam Reynolds.

Reynolds was missing against the Canberra Raiders at the weekend and, although the Broncos edged a 29-18 win, they were not the same team without him.

Pat Carrigan is also out injured and, although he is also a big loss, it is Reynolds that is most influential.

NRL legend Andrew Johns has gone as far as saying the Broncos cannot win the premiership without him.

Now it will be interesting to see if the Broncos bring Reynolds back against Melbourne or give him another week of rest to make sure he is over the calf niggle and absolutely right for finals.

If he is rested, then Jock Madden will continue to wear the No.7 jersey.

Elsewhere, Carrigan is likely to miss out again with a foot injury, while Kotoni Staggs is out through suspension.

Storm finding their form

The Storm have a habit of finding their form and peaking at just the right time for finals, and this season is no different.

Craig Bellamy’s side have won the last three games on the bounce and they will be keen to keep that run going against the Broncos.

The Storm did win the reverse fixture 24-16 earlier in the season and can be backed at 4.50 to win by 1-12 points on this occasion.

Melbourne were handed a huge boost last weekend with the return of Ryan Papenhuyzen, who has missed most of the season through injury.

He played 17 minutes in the 21-point win over the Titans and is likely to get more game-time against the Broncos to sharpen him up for finals.

Storm also beat the Broncos 60-12 when the two sides last met at Suncorp last season, so the venue will hold no fear for them.

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