The NYC Panthers are one game short of the Grand Final after a polished 33-12 win over Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
A heavy penalty count and stronger field positioning for the hosts wasn’t enough as the Panthers produced a stern defensive effort to shut out their opponents and march on to a Preliminary Final showdown against the Eels next week.
A blip in concentration from the kick-off by the Panthers put the Broncos on the front foot early to eventually post the opening points in the 5th minute after sustained pressure. An offload from Patrick Carrigan led to Gehamat Shibasaki crossing over out wide, which was converted by Kotoni Staggs for a 6-0 lead.
It took until the clock read 7:30 for the Panthers to touch the ball but they made it count when Dean Blore’s kick was tipped and picked up by Daine Laure. Richie Munchow darted from dummy-half on the next phase to bring his side back to 6-4.
A stern defensive effort from the Panthers laid the platform for them to take the lead on the half hour mark. Brad Gaut ran on to a short ball close to the line and broke free of a handful of defenders to crash over beneath the crossbar, allowing Blore a simply conversion to make the score 10-6.
The Panthers capitalised on another opportunity to add points moments later when Caleb Aekins produced a deft pass to find Jesse Abbott’s instinctive run for the centre to dive over. Blore again added the extras to stretch the score out to 16-6.
HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 6 – 16 Penrith Panthers
As has often been the case this season, skipper Wayde Egan produced two moments of brilliance to extend their lead in the 42nd minute.
His line break and combination with Sam Martin-Savage carried the side to the Broncos line, before darting from dummy-half to add the finishing touches on the set. Blore’s simple conversion took the Panthers out to 22-6 in front.
Meek defending from the Panthers on Patrick Carrigan allowed the Broncos captain to cut the deficit in the 55th minute to 22-12 following Staggs’ conversion.
However, the Panthers were quick to respond when a penalty late in the count gave them a repeat set on the Broncos line. Aekins’ stabbed kick behind the line was swooped upon by Jamon Wormleaton to make the score 26-12 in the 62nd minute.
Blore sealed the win when he raced on to a Martin-Savage kick back on the inside in the 75th minute. He would convert his own try from in front of the posts to seal a 32-12 victory.
A field goal in the dying moments to Blore added the icing on the cake for the Panthers who set up a Western Sydney showdown against the Eels next week for a spot in the Grand Final.
FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 12 – 33 Penrith Panthers