The Broncos think they have the first points after Maika Sivo spills a bomb and Richie Kennar scoops it up to score, but it’s rightly called back as Kennar is offside from the kick. I guess that’s what happens when you’re running dead last.
Tyson Gamble, in just his third NRL match, tries to get in the way of Maika Sivo and is knocked flat on his back. There’s definite concern for a concussion here and it would be very hard to see him returning tonight with the NRL protocols in place.
Xavier Coates is on for the Broncos and it looks like caretaker coach Peter Gentle will have to look at a backline reshuffle with Kotoni Staggs to be given a bit of time at five-eighth.
We’re underway at Bankwest Stadium for the second match of the night with the Eels taking on the last-placed Broncos. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to typing that, but Brisbane need to win either tonight or next week against the Cowboys to avoid the wooden spoon.
Parramatta is desperate to ensure they stay in the top four with the Raiders nipping at their heels.
For only the third time in their history, the Panthers are the minor premiers. They’ve cruised past the Cowboys 32-12 to rack up win No.14 in a row. With just one week left of the regular season, they’ve only had one loss. Remarkable.
They’ll be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield next week after their match against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. The other two times Penrith won the minor premiership, they went on to win the grand final.
It’s been a sloppy second half, it must be said. But how can they be that disappointed with wrapping up the minor premiership with one week to go, and with the chance to finish the regular season with only one loss provided they can beat the Bulldogs next week? No team has done that since the Dragons in 1959.
It’s nothing more than a consolation. But Scott Drinkwater has rifled a delightful, floating cutout ball over the top of Josh Mansour’s head and Kyle Feldt cruises over untouched. He’s had some bad moments tonight, but that oozed class from Drinkwater.
Valentine Holmes’ conversion attempt curves inside the right upright and it’s now 32-12 with nine minutes left. North Queensland has at least kept this to two-tries all in the second half.
Rarely a week goes by without Brent Naden having some sort of impact on the scoresheet and the Panthers centre latches onto an inch-perfect pass from Nathan Cleary, who is steaming down the sideline. That’s try No.10 for Naden this year. Incredible.
Cleary’s kick is straight between the sticks. It’s 32-6 with only 11 minutes left and this will be win 14 in a row for the mountain men.
Now Stephen Crichton is back at fullback, spectacularly slipping over under another swirling Cowboys kick … and he still manages to make the catch. Is there anything this kid can’t do? I reckon every week he goes unsigned his price just keeps going up.
What sort of response does Ivan Cleary want from these last 15 minutes before his side officially claims the minor premiership? I reckon he would love for them to keep the Cowboys to just one try for the night to instil that premiership steel they’ll need in October.
I don’t know about this whole one-man-in-the-bunker edict, but we’ve finally got a decision in one of the most contentious plays of the night.
Referee Matt Cecchin denies a Cowboys try on the field, claiming Gavin Cooper is offside from a kick which results in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow eventually grounding the ball.
The Cowboys use their captain’s challenge, Cooper is onside but there’s an introspection of his involvement in the ball coming out of Kurt Capewell’s hands. It looks like Cooper has knocked it out of his hands and forward, then it doesn’t. Just give them the try. They do! Phew.
It came on the back of another bungle by the Panthers back three, this time Brian To’o following Dylan Edwards’ lead in spilling a spiralling Jake Clifford kick.
The little North Queensland hooker Reuben Cotter looks like he’s made them pay, finally, but the bunker has ruled he’s lost the ball over the line.
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