The Cumberland Throw

NRLW Preview – Round 4, 2023: Broncos vs Eels

There’s no let up for the Eels troubles this week, playing a Brisbane Broncos side who are starting to catch some rhythm and form.

The powerful Broncos team took care of business against the North Queensland Cowboys last round, registering a comprehensive 40-12 victory. The clash featured a dominating performance from centre Mele Hufanga, who compiled 4 tries, 14 tackle breaks, 5 line breaks, and 180 running metres.

With injuries and a suspension to franchise marquee player Kennedy Cherrington, the Eels depth will continue to be tested as they commence six consecutive weeks on the road.

Game Info:

Date: Saturday, August 12, 2023

Venue: Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane 

Kick-off: 3:10 PM AEST

Referee: Belinda Sharpe

Broadcast: Channel Nine and Foxtel

Live Stream: Kayo & Nine Now


Brisbane Broncos 

1. Hayley Maddick 2. Lauren Dam 3. Mele Hufanga 4. Shenae Ciesiolka 5. Ashleigh Warner 6. Gayle Broughton 7. Ali Brigginshaw 8. Breanna Eales 9. Lavinia Gould 10. Brianna Clark 11. Tazmin Gray 12. Romy Teitzel 13. Mariah Denman 14. Jada Ferguson 15. Filomina Hanisi 16. Chelsea Lenarduzzi 17. Jasmine Fogavini 

18. Toni Hunt 19. Grace Griffin 20. Keisha-Leigh Coolwell 

Brenna Eales replaces Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, meanwhile, Ashleigh Warner returns from suspension and shuffles Toni Hunt to the reserves list.

After a slow start, Brisbane’s strike players are finally unleashing.

In addition to Mele Hufanga finding her best, Gayle Broughton is developing into a high quality six, with her running game and ball-playing ability making her a natural for the position.

Coach Scott Prince seems to have found the key to unlocking a more expansive attack in 2023.


Parramatta Eels 

1. Abbi Church 2. Zali Fay 3. Kimberley Hunt 4. Cassey Tohi-Hiku 5. Monique Donovan 6. Pihuka Berryman-Duff 7. Rachael Pearson 8. Talesha O’Neill 9. Rueben Cherrington 10. Elsie Albert 11. Amelia Mafi 12. Mahalia Murphy 13. Kennedy Cherrington 14. Capri Paekau 15. Madeline Jones 16. Shannon Muru 17. Kyra Simon 

18. Taneka Todhunter 19. Ruby-Jean Kennard-Ellis 20. Chloe Jackson 21. Lindsay Tui 22. Tyla Amiatu 

Kennedy Cherrington four game suspension could not have come at a worse time for the Eels.

Fans were looking at the return of Elsie Albert to take some of the opposition heat off KC, but the Eels will have to wait for another month before the representative middle forwards can unite.

Still, the inclusion of Rachael Pearson and Elsie Albert will provide much needed game management and go forward for a team that’s struggling to compete.

Whether it’s Ruby-Jean Kennard or Madeline Jones filling the hole left by Kennedy, there’ll be plenty of questions asked of them.


Mahalia Murphy gets shuffled into the second-row rotation, meanwhile, Cassey Tohi-Hiku and Monique Donovan keep their combination on the right edge together. Kimberley Hunt shows promise and has cemented her spot at the left centre next to Zali Fay.

Neutralising Mele Hufanga

Mele Hufanga plays a unique style of footy, and her size and talent make her an imposing proposition for any defence.

The Broncos have a classy roster of experienced players, with Hufanga being one of their rugby converts. Broughton, a fellow New Zealander with roots in Union, could be the ideal person to play inside her as she looks to isolate wide defenders.

Try time for Hufanga

Gayle Broughton and Ali Brigginshaw love to work all of the thirds across the field. This gives them the ability to spread the ball aggressively.

Look for them to create time and space for their left edge and primarily Hufanga. She can and will dominate one-on-one matchups and pick apart passive defences with her bruising runs.

It is crucial that the Eels young backline understand they need to attack her with numbers in defence and pressure her with line speed.


Eels Defensive Strategy 

The Broncos have strong forwards that provide what all coaches are looking for – a platform for their halves.

Gayle Broughton loves to use her speed and footwork to create opportunities for her outside players. Her ability to generate an overlap should not be underestimated but neither should her dummy.

Ali Brigginshaw’s game-managing ability allows her team to stay in tempo even when the rhythm of the game fluctuates. She keeps the Broncos in-synch and ensures that everybody knows and fulfils their roles.

Brigginshaw and Broughton

Defensively, Eels will have to stay in their systems and work as a unit to limit the Broncos yardage.

The moment they play as individuals and charge off the line, the Broncos will take them to pieces.

The Value of Rachael Pearson & Elsie Albert 

The Eels have lacked experience in key positions over the first three rounds so the inclusion of their highest profile recruits in Pearson and Albert is a huge bonus.

Unfortunately the Eels won’t have the luxury of time when it comes to honing the new combinations. They literally have to hit the ground running.

Albert and Pearson

Pearson’s kicking and short side game add a dimension that has been lacking in the first three rounds. Expect her to provide more direction and create genuine scoring opportunities.

Albert will lead the forward pack with tough carries and improve the defence in the middle third. Her physicality and tenacity are a huge plus for the Eels.

I’m expecting a difference in the team’s performance this week, regardless of the result.


Brisbane should win, they’re in better form and lining up against a team lacking in confidence. However, the Eels will be better for the run and will improve over coming weeks with Rachael Pearson and Elsie Albert leading the way.

Result: Broncos by 10+

Player of The Game: Gayle Broughton 


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