2021 NRL – Brisbane Broncos vs Penrith Panthers Preview & Prediction Brisbane Broncos suffered a second heavy defeat in succession as they were limited to just six points for the second week in a row and things do not get any easier for Kevin Walters’ struggling side as they host another of last season’s top four in Penrith Panthers. Following the 35-6 loss to South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Broncos’ aggregate score over their last two games stands at 75-12 and that has seen Walters wield the axe on Anthony Milford with Brodie Croft handed a chance in the run-on side. Penrith Panthers continued their unbeaten start to the season as they recorded a fifth consecutive win by overcoming the challenge of Canberra Raiders last week which made it a magnificent 20 successive regular season victories. The Panthers caught the eye once again with a 30-10 success and having made such a brilliant opening to the campaign, it is perhaps unsurprising that they lead the NRL in line breaks (31), tackle breaks (195) and run metres (9,323). It was an all too familiar feeling for Brisbane Broncos last week as they struggled on both sides of the ball to succumb to yet another defeat at the hands of South Sydney Rabbitohs. That is now 15 defeats from their last 16 outings and they face the daunting task of hosting the red-hot Penrith Panthers in their bid to improve on that record. The early NRL leaders moved to 5-0 with another eye-catching performance to see off top four hopefuls Canberra Raiders in comfortable fashion last week and the Panthers can really put the Broncos to the sword if they want to here. The likes of Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Viliame Kikau have started the season in superb form and they should be able to blow the Broncos away, covering the -24 handicap in this one. Late Mail: Exiled star’s lifeline confirmed as Broncos battle illness, star Dragons recruit in mix Corey Oates is set for his first NRL game of the year as the Broncos battle illness on several fronts. Oates has been playing in the Queensland Cup for Souths Logan after stating his desire to convert into a backrower but he’ll return to the wing as the Broncos host the high-flying Penrith Panthers on Friday night. Meanwhile a key Roosters forward is racing the clock to overcome injury and line up against Melbourne and Josh McGuire could make his first appearance for the Dragons, depending on a teammates’ fitness test. 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Richard Kennar 5. David Mead 21. Corey Oates 6. Brodie Croft 7. Tom Dearden 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. John Asiata 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Jordan Riki 18. Rhys Kennedy 19. Cory Paix Queensland Origin winger Corey Oates will make his NRL return after the recalled Jesse Arthurs was ruled out on Thursday night due to illness. Oates will line up on the wing with David Mead likely shifting to centre. Thomas Flegler is also suffering battling an illness. If he doesn’t make the cut, Rhys Kennedy looms as the most likely replacement but Broncos coach Kevin Walters is optimistic. “He missed training yesterday, he’s a bit crook but I’m a lot more confident Tom’s appearance - all the news coming through is he’s going to be fine,” Walters told RadioTAB on Thursday morning. Panthers team: 1. Stephen Crichton 2. Charlie Staines 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Matthew Eisenhuth 17. Liam Martin 18. Scott Sorensen 21. Jaeman Salmon