The Penrith Panthers recorded their 12th consecutive win over a Brisbane Broncos side who were up for the challenge in this game.
Even though the Panthers were not at the top of their game they still won by a comfortable margin 25-12.
This win took the mountain men a step closer to securing the minor premiership with 3 games remaining.
With some star personnel returning for the Penrith side, this helped Nathan Cleary again show why he is the in-form player of the competition with a man of the match display.
The Broncos started the game very strongly and completed well in the first half while the Panthers were a bit sluggish in the first 40.
The Broncos did score first and it could have been more tries going their way but the Panthers scrambling defensive kept them in the game early.
Ten minutes in and from a right side shift Darius Boyd threw a great short ball to put Kotoni Staggs in a hole to leave the defenders in his wake.
This was Boyd’s eighth try assist for the year and Staggs’ registering his tenth try of the year.
Staggs converted his own try for them to take the early lead 6-nil.
It took another fifteen minutes for Panthers to trouble the scoreboard.
After receiving a penalty just inside their own half, the Panthers they worked their way down field.
The man they call ‘Sauce’, that being Josh Mansour, crossed in the corner.
It was Jarome Luai’s good play on the left that saw him beat Tom Dearden through pure strength.
Add in some nimble footwork to then draw and pass and he found Mansour who crossed untouched.
Cleary converted from out wide to bring the game back to six-a-piece.
With eight minutes remaining in the half the Broncos were penalised for a ruck infringement.
Cleary took the safe option of taking the gift two points through a successful penalty goal.
The Panthers now lead for the first time in the game 8-6.
The Broncos momentum was starting to ease off with Kurt Capewell’s first touch of the ball in 3 months resulting in him winning the race to the ball to record a four pointer.
As the half winded to a close, Cleary shaped to pass but kicked late to find space in the in-goal.
Capewell won the race to the ball to score a well-earned try.
Cleary again kicked the conversion for the Panthers to take a handy lead 14-6 into the break.
The second half did not start with much quality due to penalties being given away by both teams and unforced stopping each team’s momentum.
It took 16 minutes into the second half for the first points to be scored.
The form halves pairing of the competition combined brilliantly for Luai to just get enough downward pressure on the ball in the in-goal.
A perfectly weighted kick by Cleary saw him record his 16th try assist for the year, as Luai beat the defenders to the ball.
Cleary converted and the score line started to blow out. 20 points to 6 with 24 minutes remaining.
Not to be out done and a never say die attitude saw the Broncos hit back with a great try seven minutes later.
Dearden’s short ball put Jordan Riki into a hole and he ran 45 metres to score.
He beat Edwards on his way to the line through his brilliant speed.
Staggs converted from near the touch line to bridge the gap to 20-12.
The Panthers scored their last try of the game with ten minutes remaining to seal the game for the ladder leaders through Brian To’o.
From a Broncos goal-line dropout the Panthers worked their way into the Broncos attacking zone.
Apisai Koroisau jumped out of dummy half to get the ball out to their right hand side.
The ball went slickly through the hands for To’o to have too much speed for Herbie Farnworth to sprint 15 metres to score.
Cleary missed the conversion from the touch line for the Panthers to lead by two converted tries.
Cleary iced the game from 20 metres out with his 6th career field goal for the Panthers to take the win by 13 plus.
This was a much improved performance by the Broncos but even a Panthers side not performing at their best tonight proved too good in the end.
Cleary mentioned that the Broncos played some really good football and kept them on their toes. We needed to work hard for our points today.
NRL News Player of the Game
3 – Nathan Cleary
2 – Dylan Edwards
1 – Payne Haas