The Broncos are coming off two close games against the Titans and Rabbitohs, where they would typically have a larger score line against but struggled to do so. The Panthers on the other hand are still looking for the fast-paced performances that made them a fan favourite last year, and have fallen to two wins from eight games after the loss to Parramatta on Saturday.
Last Time Out
The Broncos took on a Rabbitohs side that were confident going into the game at ANZ Stadium. The Rabbitohs started of well and constant pressure led to a try off a Cody Walker kick. Moments later, they nearly replicated the same thing with a bomb that was misjudged by winger David Mead, but the try was denied because of an offside from George Burgess. Brisbane came back with three tries in 18 minutes, highlighted by two superhuman efforts from Corey Oates, giving them a comfortable 18-8 lead at half time. In the second half, the Rabbitohs kicked into gear from some lackluster plays by the Broncos. A loose pass from Matt Gillett setup an attacking set for the Bunnies, leading to a try moments later. From there, the scores raced out to 24-18 to the Rabbitohs before Brisbane scored a controversial try to even it up 9 minutes from full time. Anthony Milford stepped up for a field goal minutes from full time, which proved to be the difference as the Broncos escaped 25-24. The injury to Ben Hunt has hindered Brisbane’s kicking game, which once again was far from good against the Rabbits. Brisbane also struggled to start the game well, and when they did take the lead, struggled to maintain any sort of control over the opposition.
The Panthers had a tough matchup against a Parramatta side who have underperformed this season, and looked to build on a great win over the Tigers the previous week. An early mistake set the tone for most of the match where Bryce Cartwright bobbled the ball in goal, gifting the Eels first points of the match. Parramatta continued to trouble the Panthers defence and came up with a penalty and a try before halftime to make it 12-0, keeping Penrith scoreless. Penrith continued to look lost as the game went on, and Parramatta scored again through Corey Norman to make it 18-0 after 45 minutes. Norman himself had a huge performance for the blue and gold, having the best kicking and running game for his season so far as well as scoring a try. The Panthers began to re-enter the match when the Eels simply lost their control, and made a heap of mistakes. Tries to Peta Hiku and Corey Harawira-Naera made the sores 18-12 with minutes left, but the damage had been done and Penrith were ridden with another disappointing loss in 2017. Both Cleary and Martin have struggled to be that young explosive halves pairing we all expected, and not a lot seems to be changing as the season goes on.
Looking ahead to this match, I was in huge anticipation of Cleary and Hunt going head to head, but that does not look to be happening based on Hunt’s injury and Cleary’s drop in form. So, I’ll go with the two fullbacks in Darius Boyd and Matt Moylan.
Moylan has had a rough few weeks where he was dropped from the side against South Sydney, failed to fire along with the rest of his side against the Sharks and seemed to be lost against Parramatta, not really stepping up to be the experienced influence needed for his side. Whether the role of captain is getting to him or not, Moylan’s form needs to pick up and he needs to slot into the backline and play that utility playmaking role he excels at.
Boyd is effectively doing what Moylan is not right now, leading his team and playing his own style brilliantly. Boyd finished with two try assists against South Sydney, and four in 2017 means he is tied among three other players for the most in his position. Boyd’s quick passing and brilliant defence have been a key aspect of Brisbane’s success since his return in 2015, and he will once again be vital for Brisbane in this game.
The Panthers were overhyped coming into this season which makes 2017 seem a bigger failure than it really is. There is no reason that Penrith cannot compete and trouble the Broncos, who have struggled the last two games to be quick starters and continuous controllers. A close game which should be very entertaining. Broncos by 6
Broncos team: 1 Darius Boyd (c) 2 Corey Oates 3 James Roberts 4 Tautau Moga 5 Jordan Kahu 6 Anthony Milford 7 Kodi Nikorima 8 Herman Ese’ese 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Adam Blair 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Josh McGuire Interchange 14 Sam Thaiday 15 Joe Ofahengaue 16 Korbin Sims 17 David Mead 18 Travis Waddell 19 George Fai 20 Jamayne Isaako 21 Jonus Pearson
Panthers team: 1 Matt Moylan (c) 2 Waqa Blake 3 Dean Whare 4 Peta Hiku 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6 Bryce Cartwright 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Peter Wallace 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11 Corey Harawira-Naera 12 Isaah Yeo 13 Trent Merrin Interchange 14 Tyrone Peachey 15 Leilani Latu 16 Tim Browne 17 Moses Leota 18 James Fisher-Harris 19 Te Maire Martin 20 Viliame Kikau 21 Sitaleki Akauola