NRL 2024 Penrith Panthers def Brisbane Broncos, score. highlights, Reece Walsh injury, press conferences, Super Coach scores


The Panthers have thrashed a star-less Broncos outfit 34-12 as Nathan Cleary repeated his grand final heroics with another masterclass on Thursday night.

But instead of saving his brilliant best for the final 20 minutes, Cleary this time dominated from start to finish in front of a bumper home crowd of 20,089 fans.

Brisbane were already without Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas in Penrith and then star fullback Reece Walsh left the game bleeding profusely after just five minutes.

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Walsh passed his HIA following the ugly head clash with Taylan May but the huge gash that it left on the side of the 21-year-old’s face took over 20 minutes to stitch up.

Walsh was warming up on the sideline in the 27th minute and looked set to return before he suddenly went back down the tunnel due to trouble with his vision.

The Broncos ruled him out at halftime while trailing 22-2 and confirmed he’ll go for scans on Friday morning.

Walsh was left bloodied after a head collision with Taylan May. Picture: SuppliedSource: Supplied

Amid all the drama unfolding on the Broncos’ bench, Penrith halfback Cleary went about his business with another absurdly brilliant performance.

Cleary set up three tries in the first half and none more superb than when he put Izack Tago over on the stroke of halftime after throwing three dummies.

That came after throwing a pinpoint cut-out pass for Sunia Turuva to score the opener and he also set up Tago’s first in the 22nd minute, while Mitch Kenny made it three for the Panthers.

In the second half, Cleary then picked up where he left off and had a hand in another two tries, both scored in the left corner by Brian To’o.

It was such a convincing display from the Panthers that coach Ivan Cleary gave his son a rare early mark in the 72nd minute.

The Broncos scored two consolation tries in the second half but it was too little, too late as the grand final rematch proved a one-sided affair from start to finish.

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Here are three of the biggest talking points out of the match.

CLEARY WAY TOO GOOD

If Nathan Cleary continues this form then it will only be injury or the biggest robbery in the history of rugby league that will deny him a maiden Dally M Medal.

The Panthers halfback is without a shadow of a doubt currently the best player in the world and he left Fox League commentators gobsmacked at halftime.

“We spent an hour and a half pre-game talking about the grand final of 2023 and how Nathan Cleary won the grand final in 20 minutes,” Greg Alexander said.

“It’s not the grand final and it’s not that performance, but by god it’s dominating. He has done everything, Nathan Cleary. Three try assists, some great passes, broke the Brisbane defence back down on the other side of halfway, made a 50 metre run, he’s done everything. It’s been a first class performance. Nathan, the art of deception in that final Izack Tago try was brilliant.”

PUNISHED ACCIDENTS

It’s never good to borrow rules or interpretations from rugby union but rugby league is punishing players for accidental head clashes.

In rugby, players are getting sent off for head clashes and Taylan May was put on report for the one that forced Broncos gun Reece Walsh off the field in the third minute.

It was a pure accident but referee Gerard Sutton still felt the need to penalise the Penrith centre.

“He’s got a duty of care to bend and make a tackle and he doesn’t bend,” Sutton said.

Walsh passed his HIA but he couldn’t see out of his left eye due to swelling and the initial reports from Broncos officials was that there was no structural damage but he’ll have more tests post-game.

Fox Sports commentator Micheal Ennis was in disbelief with the interpretation.

“It’s an accident,” Ennis said.

“That’s the one man they couldn’t afford to lose tonight.”

Former State of Origin player Jamie Soward tweeted “Duty to bend in every tackle?”.

With Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas already not playing, the Walsh injury ended Brisbane’s hopes before the fifth minute.

MIGHTY MOSES

Since the 2022 grand final Moses Leota has built a reputation as a big game player.

His 2023 grand final was enormous and he just has a knack of turning up the dial when needed.

Without his more fancied front row partner James Fisher-Harris last night he stepped up again to lead the Penrith pack and run riot over the Broncos forwards.

He had 10 hit ups for nearly 100m in his first stint and surely critics should be ranking as the equal of Golden Boot winner Fisher-Harris.

– with NCA Newswire

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