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Embattled Brisbane, fresh off a calamitous second-half collapse against Canberra, face an uphill battle to avoid their second six-game losing streak of the season. 

The Broncos host a Dragons team fresh off a morale-boosting 14-12 victory over competition heavyweights Parramatta, their fifth and by far biggest scalp of the season.

While Brisbane have been locked in a death spiral after beginning the season with back-to-back wins St George Illawarra are much-improved since a 30-16 derby win over Cronulla snapped a season-opening four-match losing streak.

While their finals hopes are all but gone the Dragons will be setting their sights of finishing as the best of the rest under the guidance of Dean Young who took on the interim head coach role following Paul McGregor's exit.

The Rundown

Team news

Broncos: The Broncos are 1-17. With Payne Haas suspended and Tom Flegler out with a shoulder injury, Joe Ofahengaue and Rhys Kennedy form a new front-row pairing. Anthony Milford returns from a hamstring injury in the halves with Brodie Croft dropped. Jordan Kahu replaces Jesse Arthars in the backline with Herbie Farnworth shifting to wing.

Issac Luke starts at hooker for Jake Turpin, who has a broken hand. Ethan Bullemor and Jamil Hopoate are the new faces on the bench. Fullback Darius Boyd has a 25 percent winning record against the Dragons.

Sean O'Sullivan and Croft were omitted from the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off. Arthars and Pride Patterson-Robati were cut an hour before game time.

Dragons: Interim head coach Dean Young was forced to rejig his first team sheet after second-rower Tyrell Fuimaono was suspended at the judiciary on Tuesday night. Jacob Host moves from the bench into the starting side and Trent Merrin comes onto the interchange.

Star prop Paul Vaughan has been recalled after his quarantine period ended for a COVID breach, taking Tristan Sailor's bench spot. The Dragons have won their past three games against the Broncos.

Eddie Blacker was cut from the reserves 24 hours before kick-off while Sailor and Brayden Wiliame were the last two omitted an hour before game time.

Key match-up

Kotoni Staggs v Zac Lomax: They play on opposite sides of the field but both centres are certain to play pivotal roles in determining who takes home the two points. Lomax has been a revelation, scoring 10 tries (including a pair of doubles in his past four games) and sitting second on the point-scoring list behind Rooster Kyle Flanagan.

His combination with fullback Matt Dufty has been particularly potent. Staggs has been one of Brisbane's best since returning from a long-term injury in round 11. He scored a double against Cronulla in round 12 and played a leading hand in building the Broncos' surprise halftime lead over Canberra last Saturday.

Stat Attack

Brisbane are the worst defensive team in the NRL. The Broncos have conceded 34, 59, 30, 48, 46, 36, 28 and 36 points in losing 11 out of their past 12.

Rock-bottom Brisbane have conceded 63 more points (437) than Queensland rivals North Queensland and 70 more than Gold Coast, making the Sunshine State home to the competition's three worst defensive units through 14 rounds.