The Panthers chances of a Top 4 finish are on the line as they take on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, who are looking to keep a spot in the Top 8 themselves.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Broncos were on a 3 match winning streak, pulling out narrow victories against the Sharks and Raiders before delivering a 34-0 massacre of the Titans.
Nothing went right against the Warriors last week though, going down 6-26. They still sit 4 points clear ahead of the Raiders and Tigers on the ladder but their spot in the Top 8 is not completely secure yet.
The Panthers snapped a two match losing streak in Round 17 as one of the youngest sides in premiership history smashed the Warriors 36-4.
They couldn’t continue the momentum in Round 18 though as Matt Moylan got one up on his old club, leading the Sharks to a 24-12 victory. The loss saw the Panthers drop out of the Top 4 on points differential.
Four teams now sit on 24 competition points making every win vital for the Panthers hopes of finishing in the Top 4.
Jaydn Su’A has joined the Broncos casualty list, ruled out for the season with an ankle injury. James Roberts returns at centre in a direct swap.
David Fifita drops out of the back-row to the reserves. Tevita Pangai jnr shifts to the starting side at 12.
Josh Mansour makes a long awaited return to the wing in place of Tyrone Phillips. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak replaces Caleb Aekins at fullback after an impressive debut which saw him run for over 300m.
Origin reps James Maloney and Nathan Cleary replace Tyrone May and Jarome Luai in the halves. Tyrone Peachey moves back to the bench in the utility role, replacing interchange hooker Wayde Egan.
Neither Milford or Nikorima are game managing halves. Their individual brilliance has resulted in the Broncos pulling off some big victories against top teams. It’s also resulted in a directionless team when the Broncos aren’t going forward.
They’ll need to reach into their bag of tricks to get past a solid defensive team in the Panthers.
That foundation of defence starts with the Panthers lock James Fisher-Harris. His aggressive, rushing style of defence can put a dent in the opposition’s forward momentum even if he misses the tackle. The pressure he can mount on the Broncos halves can help shut down the effectiveness of their attack.
The last 12 meetings between the Broncos and Panthers have been split at 6-apiece.
1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Tevita Pangai jnr, 13 Josh McGuire
Interchange: 14 Kotoni Staggs, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 Patrick Mago
Reserves: 18 Gehamat Shibasaki, 19 David Fifita, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 Troy Dargan
1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Christian Crichton, 6 James Maloney (c), 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 James Tamou, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 James Fisher-Harris
Interchange: 14 Tyrone Peachey, 15 Corey Harawira-Naera, 16 Jack Hetherington, 17 Moses Leota
Reserves: 18 Jarome Luai, 19 Tyrone May, 20 Kaide Ellis, 21 Wayde Egan
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday July 20th
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?