The Broncos haven’t been the dominant and consistent team that we’ve been accustomed to over the past decade but with supercoach Wayne Bennett at the helm, its no surprise that they have made it this far. They host the Panthers who were arguably lucky to get past Manly last week in what should be a thrilling game of finals football.
Darius Boyd is a huge out for the home side which will again have to shuffle around their lineup to accomodate for his absence as well as that of Tevita Pangai Jnr. While Wayne Bennett’s coaching record against Anthony Griffin is poor, it will be less of a concern than the way the Broncos lost to the Roosters last week. Their offence has been in fine form, particularly the right edge of Gillett, Roberts & Kahu (who have a good match up with Penrith’s left side) but it is their defence that will win them this game.
The Panthers ability to finish games has been well documented with their record in the last 10mins being the best in the competition by a good margin. However, after their performance against Manly a fortnight ago, it’s a surprise that they have made it this far. Plenty of potential on paper but its been an up-and-down season for the mountain men. Dylan Edwards showed why the club wasted little time in re-signing him last week and he is a key cog to the Penrith machine. If the Panthers can stay in the contest leading into the backend of this match, they are a chance.
Penrith 1-12 @ $4.25
Eels v Cowboys
Both teams showed last week why they not only deserve to be playing finals football but why they could potentially go close to winning it all. The Eels put together a solid performance against the table-topping Storm and if it wasn’t for a few calls either way, they may have had the week off. The Cowboys were gritty and won the crucial moments to knock off last year’s premiers and will need a similar performance this week to have a chance.
The Eels run home has been nothing short of spectacular, dropping just 1 game out of their last 10 before last week’s loss to Melbourne. The signing of Mitchell Moses has proven to be a shrewd one and the Eels seem to be improving with every moment. Good discipline coupled with a high workrate in defence has got them this far and will prove valuable against a Cowboys side that works with a similar mindset.
How the Cowboys are still here is beyond me – I thought they’d be in the contest last week but I still thought the Sharks would get the job done. What I underestimated was the other JT at their disposal – Jason Taumalolo. While he’s admitted that he can’t sustain his current workload in the long run, it’s his performances that are keeping the Cowboys around and they will need every bit of it again this week. Their defence was impressive last week and they won the big moments. They beat their opposition 32-6 the last time they met (albeit Origin affected). Winning is not out of the question.