Broncos facing dog eat dog run to finals

IT WAS only one loss, but it was a loss after eight straight wins that turned the spotlight full blaze on Brisbane's claim for a seventh premiership.

Coach Wayne Bennett, skipper Justin Hodges and senior players such as Corey Parker have put the shock 44-18 loss down to not turning up on the night rather than any breakdown in team structure or a warning sign that the season, which has included a tough Origin period, may be catching up with them and taking a toll.

How they respond on Friday night against a Bulldogs side that will relish taking them on in the forwards - where they are still undermanned without Josh McGuire (Achilles) and Adam Blair (suspended) - will say a lot about the Broncos' character and whether Bennett still has the Midas touch to get his players back up.

With Darius Boyd, Hodges, Parker, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Alex Glenn, Ben Hunt and magic Anthony Milford, Brisbane have the quality and class provided they can absorb the physical pounding the Bulldogs will dish out.

Young buck Jarrod Wallace, who will be in the frontline against Bulldogs skipper James Graham and young tearaway David Klemmer, accepts the responsibility for creating some space for Hunt and Milford and his forwards who were outplayed by a smaller Manly pack last weekend.

"We've got a big test against the Bulldogs especially Graham and Klemmer. We need to hit back this week and have a real dig against them," Wallace said.

"Graham is almost like a third halfback for them. He's got great skills with the ball and if you don't wrap up Klemmer and big (Sam) Kasiano they get the phase play going and it's hard to stop."

The possible clash between Milford, who was disappointing against Manly, and Sunshine Coast product Moses Mbye should be tremendous with both youngsters blessed with the skill, speed and evasiveness to break open a close game.

"I've had little bit of experience with him during the Origin 20s series and his confidence if getting better and better," Milford said of Mbye.

"Our edge defence is going to have to be spot on to put him away."

While the Dogs desperately need to win to stay in the top eight, Brisbane will want to bounce back from a bad loss to Manly to start a tough run home against Dragons, Roosters, South Sydney and Melbourne.

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