I’m not sure Ivan Cleary will be too disappointed the Panthers are in a fight at the moment. After three months of not conceding a point in the opening 20 minutes of any match, twice in the space of two weeks they’ve conceded the first try in the opening quarter.
He will want his side to be challenged in the final month of the regular season before the finals. He’s getting one so far tonight against a team almost propping up the ladder.
I know Darius Boyd has copped a heap of criticism in the last couple of years, but this is class.
Mmmmmm. Not sure there’s much to sing about at the moment for Penrith fans.
Well, you couldn’t say it wasn’t coming but I still can’t quite believe it.
The Broncos are in first. Against the best team in the comp. And it’s Darius Boyd who sets it up with the veteran No.1 putting Kotoni Staggs through a gap to the outside of Stephen Crichton.
Staggs makes no mistake with the conversion. Brisbane lead – I repeat Brisbane lead – 6-0 after 10 minutes.
Who saw this coming?
This game has a flat feeling about it in the first few minutes. I think that spells danger for the Panthers. They definitely don’t have the intensity they’ve been showing in recent weeks.
Brisbane look good. They’ve had a bit of possession down the Panthers’ end and are looking sharp. I’m not saying an upset is on the cards yet (but it definitely is if it turns out that way).
We’re underway at Suncorp Stadium. The Panthers kick off and the Broncos have first possession.
Time for predictions tonight with kick-off only a few minutes away.
Ummm, I think I’ll stick with Penrith. Maybe. Nah, this should be all one-way traffic as the Panthers chase their first win against the Broncos since 2016. Penrith to win by 24 points and I reckon Jarome Luai will get a try at some stage tonight.
If Brisbane can stay within 20 points of the ladder leaders it might be a moral victory.
If there’s two players I can’t wait to watch tonight it’s young centres Stephen Crichton and Kotoni Staggs. It might be a while away, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them playing in the centres alongside each other for NSW one day. What a mouth-watering match-up this promises to be tonight.
Believe it or not, Crichton actually could end up his first season in the NRL as the competition’s leading try-scorer. He tops the standings at the moment with the Tigers’ David Nofoaluma, Cronulla’s Sione Katoa and the Rabbitohs’ Alex Johnston.
He has this uncanny ability to always be in the right place at the right time, a gift you cannot teach.
I know we’re supposed to be talking about how well Ivan Cleary has moulded these Panthers, but I suggest fans of his old club look away now after this shot from Johnathan Thurston…
Righto, time for the team news from Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Remarkably, Brisbane’s caretaker coach Peter Gentle has made no changes to the Broncos side from the one named on Tuesday. That’s a rare luxury for a club which has been in turmoil every single week it seems.
One change for Ivan Cleary and the Panthers – and it’s a big one. Api Koroisau (calf) is back from injury and rushed straight into the side for hooker Mitch Kenny, who might be back mowing lawns at Panthers tomorrow for a bit of extra fitness.