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With seven players missing due the Origin duties, the Brisbane Broncos have defeated the Penrith Panthers by 24-16 in a scrappy affair at CUA Stadium tonight.
In a match played in freezing conditions, the Broncos opened the scoring after just three minutes following a well worked try to David Stagg playing in the centres.
The visitors continued their early domination through Michael Ennis, the half back scurrying from the scrum base on the open side to score a soft try in the 15th minute.
A try to back rower Corey Parker in the 30th minute put the Broncos ahead by 18-0 and a cricket score was on the cards.
But the Panthers struck back in the final five minutes of the first half, beginning with a sensational 70 metre team try to centre Michael Jennings and followed up with a try in the corner to winger Geoff Daniela on the stroke of half time.
Trailing 18-10 at the break, the Panthers came out with all guns blazing in the second half and were rewarded in the 46th minute with a try to second rower Tony Puletua.
The Panthers continued to pressure the Broncos line with half back Craig Gower finding space with cross-field kicks.
The result sees the Panthers crashing to their fourth successive loss to remain equal last on the NRL ladder, capping off another week of controversy for the Penrith club. On Tuesday, captain and half back Craig Gower was released to play with French rugby union club Bayonne from 2008.
Next Friday the Panthers take on Wests Tigers at Telstra Stadium while the Broncos host the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
Penrith Panthers 16 Tries: Michael Jennings, Geoff Daniela, Tony Puletua Goals: Nick Youngquest (2/3) Brisbane Broncos 24 Tries: David Stagg, Michael Ennis, Corey Parker, Darius Boyd Goals: Corey Parker (4/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Brad Thorn (Broncos) 2 Points: Corey Parker (Broncos) 1 Point: Craig Gower (Panthers) LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary A freezing cold night in Penrith but fine conditions for football despite a slippery surface. Panthers on the end of a controversial week but should put in a good showing. Broncos missing seven stars due to Origin but they will still field a strong back row and go in as warm favourites. Panthers kick off and we're underway!
3 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Centre David Stagg runs onto a face ball from halfback Michael Ennis from 12m out to score 15m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Corey Parker successful. Brisbane Broncos 6-0
5 min: Broncos enjoying over 90% of the ball in the first five minutes.
12 min: Panthers very much on the attack for the last few minutes. Penrith have gone flick-pass happy and most are sticking, except for an earlier pass in the eighth minute which went into touch just shy of the Broncos' line.
25 min: Ennis kicks out of the full. Penrith now with an opportunity after the Broncos make their first real mistake of the match. Panthers attacking from 30m out.
26 min: Despite getting a tackle re-start and attacking within the 10m zone, the Panthers are unable to make an impression and ultimately surrender possession with a poor kick from halfback Craig Gower.
30 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Parker scores 10m in from touch. Follows a repeat set and controversial call from the ref regarding whether or not Gower touched the ball before the dead ball line. Plus a question mark over dusty pass in the lead up to the try. But ultimately, the defence wasn't up to the task. Conversion attempt by Corey Parker successful. Brisbane Broncos 18-0
35 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Centre Michael Jennings scores a tremendous team try. A 70m movement starting with Gower and forward Frank Pritchard featuring out wide. Jennings also involved and backed up to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Nick Youngquest unsuccessful. Brisbane Broncos 18-4
37 min: NO TRY Panthers denied when winger Youngquest goes into touch just before getting the ball down. Enterprising stuff from the Panthers late in the first half.
40 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Winger Geoff Daniela scores in the corner on the last play of the half following a cross field kick from Gower. Conversion attempt by Nick Youngquest brushes the left upright and is successful. Brisbane Broncos 18-10
Half time: Broncos 18-10 The Broncos were dominating the first half bar the last five minutes. After looking shoddy on both sides of the ruck, the Panthers sprang to life following one of the best tries of the year in the 35th minute. That aside, it has been near enough to mistake free football from the Broncos with possession favouring the visitors at 59%. Injury report: Broncos rookie fullback Denan Kemp reportedly has knee injury after coming off midway through the first half. Unlikely to return.
Second half underway...
46 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Forward Tony Puletua scores 10m in from touch after charging onto a ball in the backline. Follows an error from Ennis who failed to find touch following a penalty to the Broncos. Conversion attempt by Nick Youngquest successful. Brisbane Broncos 18-16
48 min: Ennis kicks out on full from the restart!
49 min: Broncos survive a Panthers raid. A cross-field kick from Gower is ruled to have come off a Panthers player but this is a dodgy call against the home side.
54 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Centre Darius Boyd scores for the Broncos against the run of play. Follows a simple bust from 40m out from John Te Reo with Boyd backing up. Conversion attempt from right in front by Corey Parker is successful. Brisbane Broncos 24-16
60 min: With 20 minutes to go, this match is still up for grabs. Panthers behind on the scoreboard but pressing the Broncos line.
65 min: No change to the score. Panthers working to get Tony Puletua back on the field after he came off in the 61st minute with a right shoulder injury.
69 min: Panthers under pressure now after Youngquest passes inside to an unsuspecting and inexperienced fullback in Liam Georgetown. The ball rolls into the Penrith in-goal and Georgetown is forced to kick it dead.
70 min: ON REPORT John Nuumaalii (Panthers) on report for high shot on Broncos five eighth Shane Perry. Broncos get the penalty right in front but go for the try.
72 min: Broncos spill possession and Panthers off the hook, but time is running out.
78 min: Panthers lose possession out wide whilst on the attack and that'll be the ball game.
Full time: Broncos 24-16 The Panthers fourth loss on the trot. The Broncos third consecutive win. A sloppy match at times but a well deserved victory to the baby Broncos.