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Phil Gould: Why Parramatta Eels should be too good for Brisbane Broncos
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I really think the Parramatta Eels have a great chance of beating Brisbane Broncos in this week’s big Thursday Night Football clash.

I know the Broncos are heavily favoured to defeat the Eels. I know many are tipping the Brisbane boys to offer up the biggest challenge to the Melbourne Storm in this year’s premiership race. 

I’m just not that convinced. 

Why?

Well, sometimes you just have to believe your own eyes.

Only a month ago, Parramatta belted the Broncos 28-14. There were no excuses for the Broncos on this night.

The Broncos flew out of the blocks and led 12-0 after only nine minutes. They scored two spectacular tries and had all the running in the early stages.

From that point on though, the Eels dug in and took the fight right up to their opponents. They clawed their way back into the contest, started to really dominate the forward battle, before clearing out over the concluding stages for a convincing win.

It was a comprehensive victory, built on power, persistence and passion. They overwhelmed their rivals and ended up playing by far the better football on the night.

Now, in explaining away this heavy loss, the Broncos claimed they had been blindsided by the Eels. They weren’t ready for them.

Hmmmm. Maybe. Fair enough.

Since that time the Broncos have cruised to comfortable victories over the Titans, Sharks and Dragons. They have played a fast moving, dangerous, and entertaining style of football in the process.

So why aren’t I convinced?

I don’t know. I just have this gut feeling that the Broncos aren’t quite playing the kind of finals football Wayne Bennett normally likes.

Maybe the old coach has changed his ways. Maybe he is letting the kids do it their own way. Maybe he is happy for them to play this way whilst ever they are showing him the commitment in defence. Maybe he is waiting for them to lose before he reigns them in and tightens up their playing style.

I just know this isn’t the way Wayne Bennett teams play in preparation for finals football. Time will tell if this continues.

What I also know is that everything about the Parramatta style of football is going to make the Broncos feel very uncomfortable on Thursday night.

This is a team high on confidence. Their football mentality is perfect for the big matches this time of year.

The forwards are hard-working, hard-nosed, no-nonsense labourers who play without fear or favour.

The crafty halves, Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses have the ball on a string at the moment. Their kicking game is superb. They place a lot of pressure on opposition teams with their fifth tackle options.

The Eels have big, fast outside backs who are not afraid to play like forwards when the need arises. They are also great finishers with try scoring potential from any part of the field.

The Eels keep things pretty simple. They control their possession and they control where their opponents get the ball.

The Eels defensive line can be very punishing.  I doubt they will give the Broncos any unnecessary latitude this Thursday night.

I’m finding it hard to see how this game will be any different to the match we watched between these two teams only a month ago.

Maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe the Broncos have another gear. Maybe they were ambushed in the previous encounter. Maybe the home ground advantage and the newfound attacking freedom the Broncos have discovered will blow the Eels away.

But I don’t deal with maybe’s.

I have to believe what my eyes see.

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