A glorious late afternoon day in Brisbane greeted the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium. The Panthers played some of their best football of the season, defeating the top of the table Broncos 40-24 to move alongside them on 14 competition points.
Three minutes into the game and Papua New Guinea international Stanton Albert did what he does best and stormed onto a ball ten metres out. He was too strong for the Broncos defence and gave the Panthers an early four point lead.
Kalolo Saitaua darted from dummy half in the 14th minute of play and was strong enough to get the ball over the line despite the attention of three Panthers defenders. The conversion from Paul Byrnes was successful giving the Broncos a 6-4 lead.
In the 19th minute Christian Crichton made a scintillating 50 metre bust down the left touch line. A penalty on the next play gave the Panthers an attacking set on the Broncos line. Brent Naden didn’t need another invitation and busted through the line to score ten out from the sideline. Harawira-Naera couldn’t extend the 8-6 advantage with his conversion attempt.
Sione Katoa was put on report in the 25th minute for taking out Paul Byrnes attempting to take a Dylan Edwards bomb.
Corey Harawira-Naaera did it all himself in the 28th minute. A strong run getting him through the Broncos defence ten metres to the right of the posts. He couldn’t convert his own try. The score remained 12-6.
Dylan Edwards forced a repeat set in the 37th minute with a nice grubber in the in goal. In the ensuing set Edwards put a deft cross field kick that wasn’t cleaned up by the Broncos and the ball sat up for Christian Crichton to pounce on. Harawira-Naera converted the try to give the Panthers an 18-6 lead at the break.
HALF TIME: Panthers 18-6
The Broncos got off to a perfect start in the second half. A short side play in the 43rd minute saw Jonus Pearson cross untouched. The conversion was beautifully hit from the touch line to bridge the gap to 6.
Paul Byrnes made it a double for the Broncos in the opening 7 minutes of the second half when he supported a break made by Nikau Terupe. Byrnes conversion was successful which tied the scores at 18 apiece.
A penalty against the Panthers gave the Broncos great field position. Kalolo Saitaua darted from dummy half to score his second try of the night and complete the Brisbane revival.
Oliver Clark is continuing the trend of the Panthers big men crossing the line. In the 55th minute he stormed onto a flat ball from Katoa to dive over the line straight under the posts. Harawira-Naera brought the scores level at 24-24 with the conversion.
The momentum swung the Panthers way as a nice offload in the middle of the park generated plenty of space for our outside backs. Christian Crichton was on hand to finish off the play in the corner. Harawira-Naera’s conversion just missed. The Panthers took held a 28-24 lead at the 60 minute mark.
In the 63rd minute Brent Naden used his strength to get through the Broncos defence and extend the lead to 32-24. Dylan Edwards took over the goal kicking and was successful with his first attempt. 34 – 24 lead to the Panthers.
The Panthers wrapped up the game in the 73rd minute. A Robert Jennings break saw the ball go wide on the next play and Maliko Filino crossed for his first try of the night. Dylan Edwards converted the try to stretch the lead to 40-24.
The Broncos had a few chance in the final minutes but couldn't bridge the gap any further.
FULL TIME: Panthers 40-24
Tries: Panthers – Stanton Albert, Brent Naden x 2, Corey Harawira-Naera x 2, Christian Crichton, Oliver Clark, Maliko Filino
Conversions: Corey Harawira-Naera 2 from 6, Dylan Edwards 2 from 2.
Tries: Broncos: Kalolo Saitaua x 2, Jonus Pearson, Paul Byrnes
Conversions: Paul Byrnes 4 from 4