7:55 PM (AEST) Friday, September 15 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The second week of NRL Finals fixtures get underway on Friday night when the Brisbane Broncos play hosts to the Penrith Panthers.
Brisbane: Kodi Nikorima; Corey Oates, James Roberts, Tautau Moga, Jordan Kahu; Anthony Milford, Benji Marshall; Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt, Adam Blair, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire. David Mead, Jai Arrow, Joe Ofahengaue, Herman Ese’ese.
Penrith: Dylan Edwards; Josh Mansour, Tyrone Peachey, Dean Whare, Dallin Watene Zelezniak; Tyrone May, Nathan Cleary; James Tamou, Peter Wallace, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Corey Harawira-Naera, Isaah Yeo, Trent Merrin. Sione Katoa, Bryce Cartwright, Moses Leota, James Fisher-Harris.
51 games have been played between these two sides with the Broncos winning 31 to the Panthers 19. While 1 game has been drawn. They last met in Round 9 this year where the Broncos won 32-18.
The Broncos opened the season with a hard fought 26-18 victory over the defending premiers Cronulla in Round 1. In the second round they came up against The Cowboys and proceeded to have yet another nail biter, going down in golden point 21-20. They then travelled down to Melbourne and proceeded to have another tough loss, going down 14-12 against the Storm. In Round 4 they continued their run of tough, close games when they overcame Canberra 13-12. In poor weather the Broncos were beaten by an under fire and out of form Bulldogs side, who won 10-7 in Round 5. Brisbane bounced back with six straight wins, beating the red hot Roosters 32-8; the gutsy Titans 24-22, a controversial one point win over Souths, a comfortable 32-18 victory over Penrith, holding out Manly 24-14 and then a shut out of the Tigers 36-0. They then had a 28-10 loss against the Warriors, with several stars missing due to Origin and then going down in a brilliant battle with the Roosters by 2 in Round 13. They beat Souths 24-18 before the bye and then beat the Raiders by 10. In Round 17 they were hammered 42-12 by the Storm. The Broncos then had to stage a second half surge to beat the bottom placed Knights 34-22 before they thumped a dismal Bulldogs side 42-12. After losing 28-14 to Parramatta the Broncos bounced back by decimating the Titans 54-0 before cruising through a disappointing Cronulla side 32-10. After they beat the Dragons 24-12 the Broncos were surprisingly flogged by the Eels 52-34. They bounced back with a 20-10 win over the Cowboys. In the first week of the finals, The Broncos fell to the Roosters 24-22.
Penrith started the season with plenty expecting them to be a genuine premiership contender, however that talk disappeared after they were belted 42-10 by the Dragons in Round 1, a side that had struggled with their attack all through 2016. Penrith bounced back with a convincing 36-2 demolition of the hapless Wests Tigers before losing by just 2 points to the high flying Roosters. They then hammered last years wooden spooners Newcastle 40-0 before losing 5 straight games; 28-6 to Storm, 21-20 to Souths, 28-2 against defending premiers Cronulla, 18-12 to Parramatta and 32-18 against the Broncos. They reversed that form with four straight wins against Warriors by 8, Knights by 10, The Bulldogs in a clinical 38-0 hiding and a stunning last gasp win over Canberra by 4 points. They returned from the bye with a 2 point loss to the Cowboys and a 28 point hammering from Souths, before reversing their form with seven successive wins over Manly by 8, Warriors by 12, the Titans by 8, Canterbury by 8, Tigers by 14, the injury hit Cowboys by 8 and a determined Raiders side 26-22. After the Panthers lost to the Dragons 16-14, they lost again the next week to Manly 28-12. In the first week of the finals, they faced Manly again, this time winning 22-10.
Spine – Both sides have rookies and makeshift players in their spines. The Broncos have halfback’s Nikorima and Hunt at Fullback and Hooker respectively while the Panthers have rookies Edwards and May at Fullback and five-eighth, while former halfback Wallace has become a hooker.
Broncos on home soil are always a big hurdle to overcome. They’ll be favourites in this.