Wednesday, 25 June 2008
: Penrith Panthers vs. Brisbane Broncos
Where: CUA Stadium, Penrith
When: 7.45pm, Friday 27th June 2008
Sportingbet Odds: Panthers ($1.36) Broncos ($3.20)
Line Option: Broncos +8.5
Referee: Gavin Badger
With so many teams clambering for a place in the top eight this season, last Friday night's fade-out against the Dragons looms as a costly defeat for the Penrith Panthers, who could find that their losing after being ahead 12-0 at half time is the difference between them playing finals football, or 'enjoying' an early 'Mad Monday'.
In reality, only five minutes of poor defence allowed the Dragons to draw level and then go ahead late when Jamie Soward slotted what ultimately proved to be a match-winning field goal, however the loss dropped the Panthers to eleventh, and while they should take the points on Friday night, had they won last week, they would be starting Round 16 inside the top eight.
Not only will the Panthers not start in the eight, they will also not start with Petero Civoniceva, who is Origin-tied to Queensland, which means there has been a recall for Tony Puletua, who has been named just a week after being written-off for a fortnight due to injury.
Masada Iosefa has been added to the interchange bench, while Jarrod Sammutt, a first team regular at the start of the season finds himself named as 18th man, and close to a game with St Mary's.
Panthers: Rhys Wesser, Luke Rooney, Michael Jennings, Maurice Blair, Brad Tighe, Wade Graham, Luke Lewis, Tony Puletua, Keith Peters, Matthew Bell, Frank Pritchard, Trent Waterhouse, Nathan Smith.
Interchange: Masada Iosefa, Tim Grant, Junior Moors, Shane Rodney, Jarrod Sammut (one to be omitted).
While the Panthers one-point loss could prove decisive at the end of the season, the Broncos could well find that their one-point triumph over Wests at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night ultimately sees them slot into the finals rather than out of them in Wayne Bennett's farewell season at the club.
Thanks to Karmichael Hunt's field goal, the Broncos start the weekend in seventh position, and while they're likely to go down on Friday night, next weekend's bye should ensure they do not drop too far out of the top eight come the end of Round 17.
With their best halves pairing, Darren Lockyer and Peter Wallace out injured (they'd have been Origin-tied anyway), the Broncos could hardly afford to go without another four players, however with Hunt, Darius Boyd, Ben Hannant and Sam Thiaday all Origin-tied, it's an exceptionally weak Brisbane side that ventures to CUA Stadium on Friday night.
As has been the case in recent seasons, the Broncos will rely on youth to win games where origin stars are absent, and the likes of Josh Hoffman, Isaak Ah Mau and Andrew McCullogh will be called-upon to provide plenty of support for the remaining established players, while for the likes of Nick Emmett, Shane Perry and Greg Eastwood, it's another chance to prove themselves at the top level as the run in to the finals commences.
Broncos: Josh Hoffman, Denan Kemp, Joel Moon, Nick Emmett, Kaine Manihera, PJ Marsh, Shane Perry, Nick Kenny, Michael Ennis, Ashton Sims, Corey Parker (capt), Greg Eastwood, Tonie Carroll.
Interchange: Joel Clinton, David Taylor, Isaak Ah Mau, Andrew McCullough, Derrick Watkins (one to be omitted).
First Scoring Play: Penrith Panthers Try ($1.93)
In what should ultimately prove to be a one-sided affair, take the Panthers to score first with a try. Look for one of the Luke's, Rooney ($12.00) or Lewis ($17.00) to be the first try scorer.
With the Broncos missing half a dozen players and on the road again, where they are on a three-game losing run, the Panthers will have no excuses should they not comfortably take the two competition points on offer Friday night
Racing and Sports tip: Penrith Panthers