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NRL 2024, Brisbane Broncos, Penrith Panthers, Round 18 match report, match highlights, injuries, coaches' press conferences

The Panthers had to fight tooth and nail against the Broncos, but were ultimately able to prevail with a hard-fought 14-6 victory.

Penrith showed plenty of grit in a close and entertaining game at Suncorp Stadium in front of a large crowd, overcoming a 4-6 halftime deficit to get back into the winners' circle following last week's loss to the Cowboys.

The Broncos also put in an improved performance as they looked to avoid their fifth straight loss. They showed they were capable of playing in the first half, holding up to the Panthers on defense and showing a determination they had lacked in recent weeks, especially at their own goal line.

They also came close to scoring the first try of the game when Deine Mariner chased down an Ezra Mam kick but redirected it, giving Penrith a seven-tackle set.

Despite losing their winger Daine Laurie – a last-minute substitute earlier in the game – who left the field in the 11th minute with a hamstring injury, it was the Panthers who scored first. Jack Cole came off the bench and showed great awareness, being in the right place at the right time and scoring a goal moments after arriving on the field.

The try was set up by a great run from prop Moses Leota, who produced a dramatic effort before Jarome Luai did the rest by sending the ball down the left where Cole received the ball and ran through to score the first points.



Jack Cole Try

But Reece Walsh, playing his first game for the Broncos since Round 12, dominated the game and had a particularly strong first half, doing his best to allay any concerns that he had not played enough football to be called back into Billy Slater's Maroons team.

Walsh was heavily involved in both defence and attack, forcing a crucial error in defence and capitalising on the resulting possession, which led to Brisbane's first try. The fullback showed his trademark speed, outmaneuvering the Panthers on the right and galloping to the goal line.

After converting his own try, the Broncos went into halftime with a 6-4 lead.

Early in the second half, the Panthers withstood two consecutive misfires at the goal line and were instead able to put pressure on the Broncos. They were the first to score after the break when the Broncos bounced a Luai kick where it was picked up by Liam Martin, who broke through the line and sent a throw-off to Lindsay Smith, who kicked into open space with great skill while Brian To'o did the rest to give his side an 8-6 lead.



Brian To'o Try

The Broncos, however, were not to be defeated and if Payne Haas had been able to intercept a grubber kick from Walsh near the line, they could have struck back. Instead, however, the Panthers were able to withstand all of Brisbane's attacking pressure and land a punch of their own.

After working their way back to the other side of the field, aided by a penalty, they were able to extend their lead when Mitch Kenny had too much space in dummy half and hit the goalpost wide. Dylan Edwards converted with just under 10 minutes left to put the team 14-6 ahead.

After halfback Jock Madden left the field early in the second half with a thigh injury, Walsh took on more kicking duties and did well overall, although he did send one kick completely out of bounds.

However, during the second half, the Panthers managed to force the Broncos out of the game and take the win.

Game Snapshot

  • The Broncos led narrowly 6-4 at halftime despite having only 43 percent possession and completing 15 of 19 passes, while the Panthers completed 21 of 25.
  • In addition, the home team was forced to make 198 tackles by half-time, compared to 172 by Penrith.
  • Reece Walsh played his first game for the Broncos since round 12.
  • Panthers winger Daine Laurie, who had been substituted on at the start of the game, left the field in the 11th minute due to a thigh injury.
  • Broncos halfback Jock Madden was also out at the start of the second half after suffering a thigh injury.
  • Matt Eisenhuth was reported for a tackle on Selwyn Cobbo in the second half.
  • Broncos winger Jesse Arthars was also reported for violent contact with Brad Schneider.
  • In wet weather, 42,433 spectators turned out to watch the game, setting a new record between the Broncos and the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium.
  • The Broncos have not defeated the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium since 2019.
  • The Panthers have won eight of their last nine games against the Broncos.
  • The Broncos have lost four of their last five games at Suncorp Stadium.
  • Panthers hooker Mitch Kenny has scored in his last three games against the Broncos.
  • Broncos fullback Reece Walsh has lost seven of seven games against the Panthers.

Gameplay

Reece Walsh returned to the Broncos with a bang and although it was not enough to secure the win, his first-half try gave the home fans cause to cheer as he showed speed and guile to get around the Panthers defence and score a clear try.



Reece Walsh Try

What they said



Broncos: Round 18

“It's a bit frustrating but that's part of it and we're not here to feel sorry for ourselves. I think the quality of our training work is really good and I'm a firm believer that the harder you work the luckier you get. And I know the tide will turn in our favour, it's just a couple of key moments. Honestly, defensively I think we've taken another big step forward. It's just next man up; we're a bit unlucky at the moment but we'll stick together and get the job done.” – Pat Carrigan, captain of the Brisbane Broncos



NRL Press Conference: Broncos v Panthers – Round 18, 2024

“I think our team definitely performed well tonight in terms of attitude and resilience. I thought the first half was a little bit (bad); we lost the game last week when we just couldn't put anything together and the second half of the first half was a little bit like that, we had maybe three or four sets that we didn't finish well and just let them loose a little bit. In the second half we were able to do a little bit better in that regard but I just felt like the guys really wanted to win tonight and however it was going to turn out we were going to find a way to do it. That gives us a lot of encouragement going forward.” – Penrith Panther coach Ivan Cleary

What's next

In Round 19, the Broncos host the St. George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

The Panthers have a free week this week.