The NYC Penrith Panthers have proved too strong for the Brisbane Broncos as they walked away from their clash 48-16 winners at Pepper Stadium.
A 26-0 halftime lead to the young Panthers cemented what was to be a big win for the second week running.
The Panthers were gifted early field territory after earning a penalty in the first minute of the game but couldn’t make the most of it as they fumbled the ball 30 metres out.
It was the Broncos who then went on the offensive after earning a repeat set and forcing a Penrith dropout. Brisbane went close with a grubber but the Panthers managed to ground the ball first.
Braidon Burns then made a 50m run from the restart for Penrith as they went within 10 of the Broncos try line.
Brisbane were getting the rub of the green from the referee early on and continued applying pressure on the Panthers line but it could not be broken on 11 minutes with a fine Burns’ tackle denying them an overlap down the right side.
Penrith then went on to open the scoring in the 15th minute as a Nathan Cleary bomb found the edge of the Broncos line with Jake Ennis rising highest to claw it back and Rob Jennings was quickest to get his hands planted on the ball as it rolled over the try-line. Cleary couldn’t convert as Penrith led 4-0.
The Panthers then forced a Brisbane knock on from a kick 20m out and Jack Hetherington wasn’t to be denied his first try for the club a few plays later in the 18th minute as Cleary sent him through a gap in the Brisbane line and the forward strolled over. Conversion from Cleary again unsuccessful but Panthers led 8-0.
Penrith were firing on all cylinders and scored again minutes later as a mazy Dylan Edwards run ended with the fullback finding a pacy Jerome Luai down the middle who raced past a few Brisbane defenders to seal a try under the posts. Cleary made no mistake of the conversation to make it 14-0 Panthers in the 22nd minute.
After earning a repeat set 30 metres out, the Panthers then pushed hard down the left side with Burns able to lure in the Broncos winger and offload to Fuimanu Enese who went over untouched in the left corner for a fourth Penrith try. Cleary converted from a tough angle to give Penrith a 20-0 lead 33 minutes in.
With 36 minutes on the clock Cleary extended the Panthers lead as he broke the Broncos line and had enough pace to race past the fullback and to the try-line. Cleary converts his own try to extend Penrith's lead to 26-0 at the break.
HALFTIME 26-0 Panthers
The Panthers emerged from the break eager for more points and Cowen Epere showed just this with a barn storming 40m run straight from the kick-off.
But it was to be the Broncos who got the first points of the half as centre Gehamat Shibasaki went over for Brisbane in the left corner after brushing past two Penrith defenders in the 42nd minute. Hayden O’Hara converted to narrow Penrith’s advantage to 26-6.
The Broncos then put back to back tries on the board as David Fauid was found down the left on 45 minutes with the Broncos winger showing enough speed and determination to plant the ball over the line. Conversion this time not successful from O’Hara to make it 26-10 Panthers.
Penrith responded in the best possible fashion in the 50th minute as Luai stepped through the Brisbane line, ran 30m and pivoted to find Burns on his inside as the centre leaped over the line for his first try of the afternoon. Cleary converted to give the Panthers a 32-10 lead.
Minutes later Liam Martin was then set up by Cleary 10m out and the forward barged his way over the line to give the Panthers back to back tries of their own. Cleary converted to extend Penrith’s lead to 38-10.
Corey Waddell added another Panthers try in the 59th minute after Penrith generated numbers down the left with Waddell benefiting from an offload to burrow over. Cleary’s conversion was this time waved away but Panthers lead 42-10.
It was all the Panthers in the final quarter of the game with Penrith flexing plenty of muscle in defence in the 69th minute to force the Broncos over the sideline on halfway.
A minute later Burns spectacularly leapt on to a weighted Luai grubber just before it went it dead to notch his second try of the game. Cleary converted to extend the Panthers lead to 48-10.
Brisbane then found a try of their own in the 77th minute as Keegan Hipgrave stormed his way over the Panthers line. O’Hara converted to make it 48-16 to Penrith.
Consolation points however as the Panthers walk away convincing winners.
FULLTIME 48-16 Panthers