A blistering first half from Brisbane set up a strong win against the Panthers 32-18 at Suncorp Stadium. A late comeback by Penrith was too little too late, as the Mountain men now fall to 2 wins from 9 games.
Broncos’ fast start enough to seal win
The Broncos have failed to impress in their first 8 games of the season. Their win over the Roosters was pleasing, but they struggled against the Titans and Rabbitohs and left an odd taste in fan’s mouths with slow starts.
Brisbane absorbed the early pressure well and scored after 10 mins through a brilliant set play off a scrum. From there they did not look back, packing on three more tries before half time and having countless attacking opportunities. The second half was mellower if anything from the Broncos, but a try to Korbin Sims made it 28-0 and easily beyond doubt. Though the Broncos took their foot off the pedal and let Penrith back into the game, conceding 3 tries in 9 minutes, and putting themselves on the back foot towards the end. Their defence remained strong, and a Matt Gillett try was the icing on a well tasting cake on 80 minutes. Brisbane’s big issue continues where they either start slow or fail to keep control of a game, luckily like their performance against the Roosters, a quick sprout of scoring set them up for a relatively convincing win. Against the Sea Eagles in two weeks, a well-spread consistent performance is heavily needed.
Penrith’s dreadful start continues
The Panthers finished 2016 in sublime style, winning 7 of their last 8 games and leapfrogging to 6th on the ladder. Logically, coming into 2017, people thought Penrith would go even better and manage a grand final berth, but so far that has not looked the case. A round 1 shock loss to the Dragons, 42-10 was covered over by a comfortable win in round 2 against the Tigers, and settled a few nervous Panthers fans. Penrith from there have fallen to the Roosters, Storm and Rabbitohs, while only beating the Knights in between. Their fast-paced attack that made them a treat to watch last year has plummeted, where they have not scored a first half try in three games now. Their points per game have fallen from 23.2 in 2016, which sky rocketed to 31.3 in their last 8 games, is now a lowly 17.3 ranking 12th overall in 2017. The Panthers finished with 17 errors to the Broncos 6, and had an unimpressive 62 percent completion rate to Brisbane’s 89 percent. Taking care of the ball has been their weakness in 2017, and that showed through more so on Thursday night.
Losses to the likes of Cronulla, Parramatta and Brisbane mean that the lower ranked opposition are yet to land on the Panthers’ doorstep. Whether that is a silver lining or not, the Panthers are struggling big time and may have already been knocked out of finals contention before anyone really knew. Wins must come quickly, but based on their lack of direction that was apparent in Brisbane, those wins will be hard to earn.
Roberts finishes with mixed night
James Roberts once again was an absolute powerhouse for the Broncos. After absorbing a lot of early pressure from Penrith, Brisbane had a scrum sitting just inside their own half, and Roberts took off from a set play to set up Kodi Nikorima for the opening try of the game. Later on, Roberts had a great solo effort where he completely carved up the defence and put Brisbane ahead 10-0. He continued to run the ball hard and taunt the defence, until he seemed to hyper extend his leg and was carried off late in the second half. Roberts added a line break and 180 running metres, which turned out to be the most metres of the game even with his early exit, all going along with his try which put him equal first in the competition with 8 scored. Slight ligament damage to Roberts is a win for Brisbane, but he is still expected to be out for a number of weeks, prompting the Broncos to fish out some worthy replacements.
Anthony Griffin’s questionable philosophy showing through
If Anthony Griffin should ever be truly questioned over his structure of teams, it should be now. Griffin has invested his faith in the future, and so has the Penrith front office. Young players were brought in to replace a group of veterans in 2016, and Griffin’s moves initially paid off with Penrith making a great run to the finals. Whether it was just excitement from the opportunity at the time that propelled them, the young guns have failed to fire so far in 2017.
Fisher-Harris was promoted by Griffin to replace Taylor, quite out of the blue, which headlined many other moves seeing both Soward and Segeyaro released, 18 year old Nathan Cleary playing in the halves and veteran half Peter Wallace played at dummy. Griffin went with a similar thing in 2011 with Brisbane where he promoted young players to starting roles like Gerald Beale and Dale Copley, which initially paid off as well. Though in 2012, Brisbane fell apart and the trusting in young half Corey Norman at the time was a bad move, meaning the Broncos never regained their great form from 2011. Loyalty is a rare thing in sports, and Penrith’s board will stick with Griffin to see out the season which is completely the right move. Veteran players who can lead the team need to be bought in however, which can help mentor the young guys. Griffin rightfully so will be on the hot seat towards the end of 2017.
Tries: Nikorima (11m), Roberts (18m), Kahu (31m), Moga (34m), Sims (51m), Gillett (80m)
Goals: Kahu 4/6
Tries: Merrin (65m), Moylan (68m), Campbell-Gillard (72m)
Goals: Cleary 3/3