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MATCH PREVIEW | Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers

Todd Warren previews the crucial clash between the Broncos and the Panthers as both teams fight to stay in the top eight.

TEAM FORM GUIDE

Broncos

After a poor start to the season the Broncos are finishing strong with three wins and a draw from their last five games. Last week they got a scrappy four point win against the Cowboys.

Panthers

Penrith also started the season very poorly and have also came good. They upset the Sharks 26-20 last week and have won three of their last five.

SQUAD NEWS

Broncos

Alex Glenn and Matt Gillett are on an extended bench and a chance to play this week if they can pass fitness tests. There was talk of a Tom Dearden return but now it seems he may not play again this season.

Brisbane currently sit in eighth position on 21 points and a nine point advantage in differential over the Panthers. The Sharks, Tigers and Warriors could all take the Broncos spot in eighth if they get wins and the Broncos lose this one. Worst case scenario Brisbane could finish the Round in 11th.

Broncos team list:

1. Anthony Milford
5. Jamayne Isaako
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Gehamat Shibasaki
2. Corey Oates
6. Darius Boyd (c)
7. Jake Turpin
8. Matt Lodge
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Payne Haas
11. David Fifita
12. Tevita Pangai Junior
13. Joe Ofahengauae
14. James Segeyaro
15. Thomas Flegler
16. Rhys Kennedy
17. Patrick Carrigan

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Panthers

James Maloney returns from a tripping suspension which knocks the impressive Matt Burton out of the 21. Dean Whare is on the extended bench and a chance to return, which would presumably mean Stephen Crichton would drop out.

Penrith are sitting seventh on 22 points, but also with a horrible points differential. A loss here would put them in eighth and possibly all the way down to tenth if the Sharks and Tigers get wins in their games.

Panthers team list:

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Josh Mansour
3. Stephen Crichton
4. Brent Naden
5. Brian To’o
6. James Maloney
7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Tamou (c)
9. Mitch Kenny
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Viliame Kikau
12. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Sione Katoa
15. Spencer Leniu
16. Moses Leota
17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard

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HEAD TO HEAD

These two teams have been quite evenly matched the last few years with each team winning five of the last ten. The Broncos got a massive win last time they faced off with a 50-18 thumping in Round 19 last season which featured doubles from Pangai Junior and the now Warrior Kodi Nikorima. Interestingly, of the last 11 games the home team has won 10. The only exception was Round 20 2016 when the Panthers scored a big 31-12 upset win at Suncorp.

KEY BATTLE

I usually pick two players here but for this ones I think the forward packs will decide the game. There’s some big match ups with Matt Lodge against James Tamou, Payne Haas against James Fisher-Harris, David Fifita against Viliame Kikau, Tevita Pangai Junior up against boom rookie Liam Martin and Joe Ofahengaue up against the ever reliable Isaah Yeo. There is definitely going to be some big collisions and with how important this game is it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a bit of push and shove between the big fellas.

Looks to me that Penrith have a bit more muscle on the bench with Leota and Campbell-Gillard but Brisbane have James Segeyaro who has been a great signing and an important part of the Broncos fight back to get in a position to make the finals. If Gillett and Glenn return for the game the Broncos should have the advantage in the forwards but there’s little doubt that Penrith have a big advantage in the halves.

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THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Friday 16th August
Venue:  Suncorp Stadium
Kick-off:  7:55pm
Referee: Ashley Klein, Chris Sutton

WHO WILL WIN?

Tough one with everything to play for. My money is on the Panthers with Maloney and Cleary a much better halves pairing than Boyd and Turpin. Panthers by six.

 

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