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NRL: Clash at the top as Broncos face Panthers

Thursday night throws up a mouthwatering encounter as title contenders Brisbane Broncos host the reigning NRL champions Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium.

Brisbane have made a strong start to the season, but recent outings have suggested Penrith will still be the team to beat this year. 

Broncos eager to stay ahead

WhatBrisbane Broncos v Penrith Panthers
WhereSuncorp Stadium, Brisbane             
When19:50 (AEST) Thursday 18th May, 2023
How to watchFoxtel, Kayo, Channel 9
OddsBrisbane Broncos 2.90, Penrith Panthers 1.42

Winning eight of their first 11 games of the season, the Broncos have a two-point lead over the Panthers ahead of Thursday’s showdown in Brisbane. 

The Broncos performed well against South Sydney last time out, but their defeat to the Rabbitohs saw the Bunnies leapfrog them to the top of the NRL ladder. 

Kevin Walters’ Brisbane now return to the home comforts of the Suncorp looking to complete a double over Penrith, having edged out the Panthers 13-12 in Round 1. 

Walters will be hoping to call upon the services of Adam Reynolds after he suffered a Category 2 head knock against Rabbitohs, while Corey Oates is also pushing to feature despite a recent knee injury. 

Brisbane will be looking for a statement win against the champions and are 2.90 to get the two points in this one. 

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Panthers have shown their claws 

Penrith made the rest of the NRL stand up and take notice after they were at their ruthless best in a 48-4 thrashing of the Sydney Roosters

Sydney had no answers for the Panthers’ attack and Brisbane will have had an eye on that game knowing about the challenge to come on Thursday. 

Penrith boss Ivan Cleary has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Brisbane, although he will still be without Spencer Leniu due to a groin injury. 

Zac Hosking has passed a head injury assessment, while Liam Martin has had no setback after returning to action from a hamstring injury against the Roosters.

A good acid test for the Broncos 

If Brisbane are to climb back to the top of the NRL and win the grand final, they are likely to have to get past the Panthers at some stage in the play-offs. 

Thursday provides another good opportunity to see how they rate against the title holders Penrith, who are favourites at 1.42 to claim the victory on the road and get some revenge for their early-season defeat at BlueBet Stadium.  

With the State of Origin edging ever closer, this game should have the added spice of players competing for spots ahead of the highly-anticipated showdowns between Queensland and New South Wales. 

The first encounter takes place on 31st May, with Queensland 2.35 to win and 1.60 to lose against NSW at the Adelaide Oval. 

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