Round 17 of the 2020 NRL season kicks off with one of the most lop-sided matches of the season. It's the ladder-leading Panthers up against the lowly Broncos and only one result looks likely. Our NRL guru Scooby is back with his preview as he hunts some value for the match. Check out his Broncos vs Panthers preview below!
Suncorp Stadium, 7:50pm Thursday
It was yet another dull performance for the Broncos, hammered 58-12 by the Roosters on the road. With the possibility that a change at the helm (or impending to say the least) would shift the attitude of the playing group, the fans of this club were quickly reminded that there remains a lot of discouraging factors about this current Broncos outfit. The match was all but over at HT, with the Roosters leading 24-6. In the end, they had a 74% completion rate, made just 498pcm, 2 linebreaks, 39 missed tackles and 11 errors. Perhaps what is worse for this club, they are in danger of being the worst defensive team since the Magpies in 1999 (a team who averaged 39.33ppg) and capturing the clubs first ever wooden spoon.
There were no such issues for the Panthers, who have to go back to Round 5 to remember their most recent loss. Sitting pretty at the top of the competition, they were on the back foot against the Tigers, as they scored in the 8th minute of play. This was the first time all season a team had scored points against the Panthers in the opening 20 minutes of a match. They remain composed and showed plenty of maturity to rise above certain tactics the Tigers were employing. In the end, once they found their groove, they ran away with a 30-6 victory. This was always going to occur as a greater share of possession (56%) and superior completion rate (82%) gave them greater attack opportunities and an ability to build pressure in key areas on the field. To go along with this, they had 572pcm, 33 tackles breaks, just 18 missed tackles and only 8 errors. Winning is one thing, but the fashion in which the Panthers are currently executing has many out in western Sydney excited about their prospects.
Interestingly, the Broncos hold a superior overall record over the Panthers (23 v 12 wins since 1998); however, they will almost need divine intervention to turn this performance into a win. The Panthers are the second highest scoring team this year with an average of 26.1ppg and concede the second fewest amount of points 13.3ppg. On the other side, the Broncos score just 13.9ppg (equal last) and concede a massive 32.7ppg (16th). The Panthers will look to generate their own momentum through carrying the ball in the middle; they currently average 1859.1m per game (2nd) compared with the Broncos 1461.7m (16th). The other glaring difference (among many) is in try assists; the Broncos average just 1.4 per game (16th) compared with the Panthers 3.5 (3rd). Perhaps the Broncos will hope that recent history is a factor as the Panthers have won just once in the past 5 meetings between these two sides, with all of those games played at this ground.
One of the best teams in the competition this season against one of the worst; you don’t have to think too hard about a potential winner in this contest. Even with poor execution, the ‘effort’ stats in 2020 point towards where this Broncos team is at this year. Unfortunately, they are not even as good a chance as their $10 odds suggest. The only possible factor that could lift them to a victory is that they are playing the leading team in the competition and may want to prove a point. Then again, their loss last week also points to where this squad is at mentally. The hardest decision is deciding on a margin. The Panthers are in rare form in the past five weeks; they have an average winning margin of 20.4 points, with 3 of those wins against teams outside of the Top 8. It is hard to find value and a ‘safer’ selection is Panther 19+ @ $1.65, but the recommendation is to take the Panthers to dominate from start to finish.
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