Holden Cup preview: Panthers v Broncos
Holden Cup Semi Final: Penrith Panthers v Brisbane Broncos
The Panthers 'host' the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night with the winner set to take on the Eels for a spot in the Holden Cup grand final while there are no second chances for the losing side.
The second-placed Panthers went down to the Dragons in week one of the finals in a see-sawing affair that saw the lead change several times before the Red V survived a late scare to hold on for a narrow 18-14 win.
It was a different story for the Broncos who survived a Knights comeback en route to a thrilling four-point win of their own that was set up their big men through the middle.
Penrith claimed a comfortable 44-12 win in Round 9 when the teams met at the 'Cauldron' and are searching for their third-straight preliminary final appearance.
Why the Panthers can win: They might be undermanned and reeling from last week's loss, but as long as Wayde Egan is in the team the Panthers are a chance. The NYC Team of the Year hooker finished the regular season with 16 tries from 18 matches – including a four-try haul against the Warriors in Round 10 – while he also had 14 try assists. His dominance around the ruck hasn't been limited to his ability in attack, with Egan also averaging just shy of 35 tackles per game in 2017. While his teammates struggled for continuity in attack last week, Egan was able to poke his nose through the line several times, almost stealing victory in the dying seconds with a testing dart from close range.
Why the Broncos can win: We touched on their forwards last week, and while we expected big things from them Brisbane's pack took it to another level against the Knights. Team of the Year prop Patrick Carrigan continued his dream run in the front row with 205 metres, 44 tackles and a try assist in another outstanding 80-minute showing. It was far from a one-man show with fellow front-rower Jai Whitbread crashing over for a try while bench forward Sam Elliott bagged a double and ran for 114 metres in just 28 minutes.
Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 5:10pm.
NRL.com predicts: Broncos by 10