Brisbane Broncos secured a vital win over Penrith Panthers in the battle for an NRL finals berth, while Parramatta Eels remained in the mix for the top four.
The Broncos and the Panthers lie seventh and eighth in the ladder having traded places on Friday with Brisbane’s 24-12 win moving them three points clear of the ninth-placed Cronulla Sharks, who have a game in hand.
The hosts had to recover from a dismal start at Suncorp Stadium as Jake Turpin was sent to the sin bin just seven minutes in for swinging an arm at Dylan Edwards.
But Kotoni Staggs crossed on the quarter-hour mark and the Broncos remained in front at the break despite Nathan Cleary’s response, with Jamayne Isaako’s penalty goal the difference between the sides.
Isaako would prove the key man for Brisbane following the restart, quickly grabbing a try and then scoring again 10 minutes later before Brian To’o hit back.
An extended scoreless stretch played into the Broncos’ hands and Payne Haas went over in stunning fashion to stretch the advantage and set up a comfortable finale, even with Tevita Pangai binned for a high challenge on James Maloney.
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Ahead of Brisbane, the Eels are still sixth but now level on points with the teams third, fourth and fifth after hammering strugglers Gold Coast Titans.
Waqa Blake got his first tries for the club as they eased to a 36-12 win, dealing the Titans an eighth straight defeat.
Daniel Alvaro and Manu Ma’u had Parramatta in the clear, although the lead was cut to six points at the interval as Brian Kelly crossed.
However, in a ruthless spell, Shaun Lane went through and Blake followed twice in succession. Marata Niukore scored with 10 minutes remaining meaning Jesse Arthars’ consolation counted for little.