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Broncos v Panthers: Blues stars return for both clubs in chase for top-four spots

A huge game for both teams and certainly the match of the round, as the battle for top eight seedings heats up with seven rounds remaining.

The Panthers will welcome back Tyrone Peachey, James Maloney and Nathan Cleary after the NSW Origin trio sat out last week's home loss to Cronulla, while representative prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard (broken jaw) is still a few weeks away from returning.

After losses in three of their past four games, Penrith (11-6) will need all hands on deck down the home stretch of the regular season if they are going to clinch a top four finish.

The Broncos were terrible in last week's embarrassing thrashing from the Warriors on home soil, slipping to 10-7 for the season.

It could prove to be a costly result after the Raiders crept a little closer to the top eight with their big win over the Cowboys. Victory would've put the Broncos within touching distance of the top four but now they have to worry more about keeping hold of eighth spot.

Broncos v Panthers - Round 19

Key match-up: It's a virtual Origin clash in the halves, with Brisbane duo Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima up against Maloney and Cleary, and it's probably where the game will be won and lost. Milford and Nikorima have had their share of critics at different times this season and have to take it upon themselves to get the better of the NSW playmakers. 

For the Broncos to win: This will be the first and only regular season meeting between these teams and both coaches will be focused largely on defence. The Broncos have conceded far more points than the Panthers and have to make sure they get their defence right on Friday night.

For the Panthers to win: The return of the three aforementioned Origin stars will no doubt be a boost, but the rest of the Panthers who held the fort in their absence have to stay proactive and not sit back waiting for things to happen. A lot of responsibility rests on the forward pack to get the Panthers going forward.

Broncos Stat Attack: Jamayne Isaako has been one of the finds of the year, with the goal-kicking winger earning a New Zealand international call-up last month, and the 22-year-old is one point away from bringing up 150 points in his first NRL season.

Panthers Stat Attack: Former Brisbane coach and current Penrith mentor Anthony Griffin still holds a strong record over the man who replaced him (and who he replaced), winning eight of his 12 matches against Wayne Bennett-coached sides.

And another thing: The celebration party was all set last week but the Warriors produced one of their best performances of the season to completely ruin plans for Wayne Bennett's 500th career win. The Broncos will have to play a whole lot better if Bennett is going to reach the 500-win milestone on Friday. In contrast Anthony Griffin, who also coached Brisbane for four years, has 105 wins under his belt from 185 games.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
    Fullback for Panthers is number 18 Jarome Luai
  • Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
  • Centre for Broncos is number 1 Darius Boyd
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Waqa Blake
  • Centre for Broncos is number 3 James Roberts
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Dean Whare
  • Winger for Broncos is number 4 Jordan Kahu
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Christian Crichton
  • Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Anthony Milford
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 James Maloney
  • Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Kodi Nikorima
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary


  • Prop for Broncos is number 10 Sam Thaiday
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Trent Merrin
  • Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Andrew McCullough
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Sione Katoa
  • Prop for Broncos is number 15 Joe Ofahengaue
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Tamou
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Isaah Yeo
  • Lock for Broncos is number 13 Josh McGuire
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 James Fisher-Harris


  • Interchange for Broncos is number 8 Matthew Lodge
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone Peachey
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Kotoni Staggs
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Corey Harawira-Naera
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Korbin Sims
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Jack Hetherington
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 19 David Fifita
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Moses Leota

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Nick Beashel
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

Broncos: Tevita Pangai jnr and Joe Ofanhengaue will both play after getting through the team's final training session on Thursday. Pangai jnr had been battling a hamstring complaint and Ofanhengaue a knee injury. Meanwhile a backline reshuffle will mean Darius Boyd starts in the centres with Jamayne Isaako moving to fullback and Jordan Kahu playing on the wing. On the bench, David Fifita has been called in and Patrick Mago omitted from the team named on Tuesday. Sam Tagataese and Gehamat Shibasaki were the last players cut an hour before kick-off.

Panthers: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is a late withdrawal, replaced at fullback by Jarome Juai. Josh Mansour, James Maloney and Nathan Cleary return with Tyrone Peachey to come off the bench. Caleb Aekins, Tyrone Phillips, Tyrone May, Jarome Luai and Wayde Egan drop out. Kaide Ellis was cut an hour out from kick-off.

Head-to-head: Played 52; Broncos 32 wins, Panthers 19 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Broncos won 13-6 at Suncorp Stadium in Finals Week 2, 2017
Points per game: Broncos 19.6; Panthers 21.4
Points conceded per game: Broncos 21.2; Panthers 15.8
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League

Petero Civoniceva's prediction: Brisbane were very disappointing last week with so much to play for. The Panthers also went down but they will welcome their Origin halves Maloney and Cleary back and that will make a huge difference. Suncorp Stadium is a big plus for the Broncos and the return of James Roberts adds plenty of potency to their attack.

Tip: Broncos by 6

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