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Gritty Panthers fight back to hunt down determined Broncos

The Panthers were forced to fight tooth and claw against the Broncos, but held on to claim a hard-fought 14-6 win.

Penrith showed plenty of grit in a tight and entertaining contest at Suncorp Stadium in front of a big crowd and had to come from a 6-4 halftime deficit to return to the winners circle after losing to the Cowboys last week. 

The Broncos also put in an improved performance as they attempted to prevent a fifth-straight loss and showed they were there to play in the first half, standing up to the Panthers in defence and showing a determination that had been missing in recent weeks, especially on their own tryline.

They also came close to scoring the first try of the game when Deine Mariner chased through on an Ezra Mam kick, only to knock it on and give Penrith a seven-tackle set.

Despite losing their winger Daine Laurie - who was a late swap to start the game - when he left the field in the 11th minute with a hamstring injury, the Panthers were instead the first to score, with Jack Cole coming off the bench and showing great awareness to get himself in the right place at the right time to score within moments of getting on the field. 

The try was set up by a great run from prop Moses Leota who proved a drama to bring down, before Jarome Luai did the rest by sending the ball out to his left where Cole ended up with the ball and ran through for the opening points. 

Jack Cole Try

However, Reece Walsh, who was playing his first game for the Broncos since Round 12, put his stamp on the game and had a particularly strong first half, doing his best to dispel any concerns that he hadn't played enough football to earn a recall to Billy Slater's Maroons team. 

Showing plenty of involvement in both defence and attack, Walsh forced a crucial error when defending and was the beneficiary of the resulting possession which ended up in Brisbane's first try, with the fullback showing his trademark speed to burn the Panthers on their right and gallop away to the tryline. 

After converting his own try, the Broncos went into the halftime break with a 6-4 lead. 

To start the second half, the Panthers withstood back-to-back goal-line dropouts and were able to instead put the pressure on the Broncos. They were the first to score after the break when the Broncos let a Luai kick bounce where it was picked up by Liam Martin who burst through the line and sent an offload to Lindsay Smith to show great skill to kick ahead into space, with Brian To'o doing the rest to give his side an 8-6 lead. 

Brian To'o Try

The Broncos wouldn't go away however and if Payne Haas was able to collect a Walsh grubber kick close to the line they would have hit back, but instead, the Panthers were able to absorb all of Brisbane's attacking pressure and land a blow themselves.

After working their way back to the other side of the field, aided by a penalty, they went further in front with Mitch Kenny was give too much room at dummyhalf and scored next to the uprights. Dylan Edwards converted for a 14-6 lead with just under 10 minutes to go. 

With halfback Jock Madden forced from the field with a hamstring injury early in the second half, Walsh stepped up to take on board more of the kicking duties, doing well overall despite sending one kick out on the full. 

However, the Panthers were able to squeeze the Broncos out of the contest as the second half wore on to claim their win.

Match Snapshot

  • The Broncos held a slim 6-4 lead at halftime despite only having 43 percent of possession with 15/19 completions while the Panthers had 21/25.  
  • The home side were also forced to make 198 tackles to Penrith's 172 at the break. 
  • Reece Walsh was playing his first game for the Broncos since Round 12.
  • Panthers winger Daine Laurie, who was a late swap to start the game, left the field in the 11th minute with a hamstring injury.
  • Broncos halfback Jock Madden was also ruled out with a hamstring injury of his own early in the second half. 
  • Matt Eisenhuth went on report for a tackle on Selwyn Cobbo in the second half.
  • Broncos winger Jesse Arthars was also put on report for a high contact on Brad Schneider.
  • A crowd of 42,433 was on hand in wet conditions to watch the match creating a new Suncorp Stadium Broncos v Panthers record.
  • The Broncos have not defeated the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium since 2019.
  • The Panthers have won eighth of their past nine games against the Broncos.
  • The Broncos have lost four of their past five games at Suncorp Stadium.
  • Panthers hooker Mitch Kenny has scored in his last three games against the Broncos.
  • Broncos fullback Reece Walsh has lost seven from seven against the Panthers.

Play of the Game 

Reece Walsh returned to the Broncos with a bang, and while it wasn't enough to secure a win, his first half try gave the home fans something to cheer about, showing speed and guile to sidestep the Panthers defence and score a runaway try. 

Reece Walsh Try

What they Said

Broncos: Round 18

“It is a little bit frustrating, but it’s all part and parcel and we’re not here to feel sorry for ourselves. I think the quality of work we have been doing at training is really good and I'm a big believer in the harder you work, the luckier you get and I know it's going to turn for us, it's just a couple of key moments. To be honest defensively, I thought we took another massive step forward. It's just next man up; we're getting a bit unlucky at the moment, but we'll band together and we'll get the job done." - Brisbane Broncos captain Pat Carrigan

Panthers: Round 18

“I thought it was definitely a quality performance in attitude and resilience by our team tonight. I thought the first half was a little bit (poor); we lost the game last week when we just couldn't put any of the pieces together and the back end of the first half was a little bit like that, we had like maybe three or four sets that we didn't finish well and just let them off a bit. The second half, we were able to do a little bit better in that regard, but I just felt like the boys really wanted to win tonight and however it was going to work out, we were going to find a way to do it. That gives us a lot of heart for the future.” - Penrith Panther coach Ivan Cleary

What's Next

In Round 19, the Broncos will host St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

The Panthers will have the week off with a bye. 


Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.