Grand rivalry: Looking back at 35 years of Panthers-Broncos epics

Nrl23 panthers broncos best games

From Gorden Tallis and Ben Ross getting it on to Justin Hodges going off with four tries but still losing, the Panthers-Broncos rivalry has produced more than its share of drama during the past 35 years.

Since the Broncos entered the competition in 1988 they have won six premierships, while the Panthers have saluted four times during that period – 1991, 2003, 2021 and 2022.

The two have never clashed in a grand final but that all changes at Accor Stadium on Sunday when the Broncos look to deny the Panthers a historic three-peat.

It promises to be an epic decider as the two powerhouse clubs clash for the 61st time, adding another chapter alongside these classic clashes of the past:

Best of the Panthers-Broncos rivalry​

Benny's boys prevail… Broncos 20, Panthers 18, Round 2, 1988 @ Lang Park​

Talk about announcing yourself in style!

On the back of a stunning demolition of premiers Manly in their first premiership match, the Broncos exploded out of the blocks to lead the Panthers 16-2 at the break.

Tries to John Cartwright, Matt Goodwin and Brad Izzard put the Panthers in front before a late strike by ‘Smokin’ Joe Kilroy got the Broncos home.

Wayne Bennett’s men then took care of Wests, Norths, Parramatta and Newcastle to rack up an incredible six on the trot to kick start their debut season.

Kevvie and Alf salute… Broncos 20, Panthers 12, Rd 13, 1991 @ Lang Park​

The battle of the halves was worth the price admission alone at The Cauldron as hometown heroes Allan Langer and Kevin Walters took on Greg Alexander and Steve Carter.

The Broncos pair were already premiership winners while their Panthers counterparts would go on to savour grand final glory later that year.

In the coaches’ boxes we had Wayne Bennett and Phil Gould looking to outfox one another and it was the Supercoach with the last laugh as tries to Michael Hancock, Chris Johns, Brad Tessman and Langer got the Broncos across the line.

Tallis tees off… Broncos 24, Panthers 20, Rd 1, 2003 @ Penrith​

Panthers young gun Ben Ross finished the 2003 season with a premiership but he almost didn’t make it past Round 1 after the ‘Raging Bull’ got hold of him.

On a scorching afternoon in Sydney’s west, Tallis was clearly hot under the collar and when 22-year-old Ross dared to look at him sideways, it was on.

Tallis unloaded, Ross did his best to fight back, the cavalry arrived and when the boys got down to playing some footy it was Brisbane prevailing 24-20.

Just nine games into his career at that stage, Ross had survived the initiation and went on to play a leading role in the Panthers’ premiership success.

Hungry, hungry Hodgo…. Panthers 29, Broncos 28, Rd 3, 2007 @ Suncorp Stadium​

It’s not too often a player scores four tries in a game and still loses but that was the tale of woe for Bronco Justin Hodges in this golden point thriller.

The star centre was his team’s lone tryscorer, with Darren Lockyer piloting six goals, but it wasn’t enough to deny a Panthers side led by 2003 Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Priddis and halfback Craig Gower.

Looking down and out with the full-time siren about to sound, the Panthers produced a miracle try to fullback Rhys Wesser to send the game beyond the 80 minutes before a long-range Peter Wallace field goal in the 87th minute handed them a memorable victory.

Darren & Dave deliver…. Broncos 58, Panthers 24, Rd 23, 2009 @ Suncorp Stadium​

After trailing 24-18 at half-time the Broncos exploded in the second half as their superstars produced a near faultless 40 minutes to run in seven unanswered tries.

Champion No.6 Darren Lockyer had a hand in six of Brisbane’s 10 tries while Corey Parker knocked over nine goals as the Broncos tuned up for the finals with a dominant display.

In his final season at Red Hill before departing for Redfern, Dave Taylor was at his barnstorming best, scoring a try in the first half and putting Ben Te’o over with a sweet offload late in the match.

Moylan the hero… Panthers 35, Broncos 34, Rd 18, 2014 @ Penrith​

Fullback Matt Moylan's last-gasp field goal sealed a thrilling win for the Panthers in a Monday night try-fest.

With Tyrone Peachey in the halves alongside Jamie Soward, the Panthers played expansive footy to come up with six tries, including a double to Kevin Naiqama.

The Broncos bagged six tries of their own, including one to winger Corey Oates with less than two minutes remaining which locked the scores up at 34-34 after they had trailed 34-18 midway through the second half.

A knock-on by Josh McGuire as he was returning the kick-off gave the Panthers a last shot with just 80 seconds left.

After the second tackle of the set, the ball went to Soward who sent it to Moylan for a 30-metre field goal to win the match.

Low scores, high drama…. Broncos 8, Panthers 5, Rd 9, 2015 @ Suncorp Stadium​

Trailing 5-4 with five minutes to play after Panthers fullback Matt Moylan had added a field goal to two earlier penalty goals, the Broncos dug deep to get out of jail.

Broncos playmaker Ben Hunt missed a relatively easy field goal attempt to level the scores so when the opportunity presented itself again fpr a one-point shot he chose to take a punt on running the ball.

In the 79th minute, Hunt tried his luck on the right edge and picked up Corey Oates, who had come off the bench in the role of a forward opposed to his regular wing job.

Hot streak continues… Panthers 25, Broncos 12, Rd 17, 2020 @ Suncorp Stadium​

The Panthers continued their march towards the minor premiership a 12th win on the trot on the back of superb displays by halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai and hooker Api Koroisau.

The win took Penrith to 31 points on the ladder, five clear of the Melbourne Storm in second position.

The Panthers' winning streak of 12 equalled the Roosters (2015) and Storm (2011) in previous seasons and by the time they had rolled into the grand final against the Storm they had racked up 17 on the bounce.

That 17-game winning streak is the best in club history for the Panthers.

The Reyno Factor…. Broncos 13, Panthers 12, Rd 1, 2023 @ Penrith​

After finishing ninth in 2022, the Broncos were expected to be no match for the premiers in front of the Panthers faithful at BlueBet Stadium.

What transpired was an early indication of what was to come from Brisbane in 2023 as their main man Adam Reynolds popped over a field goal to give them a 13-6 lead in the 71st minute and they hung on for a statement win.

Stephen Crichton had opened the scoring for the champs in the eighth minute before a double to Herbie Farnworth gave the Broncos a 12-6 half-time lead.

After Reynolds had stepped up to make the margin seven it was the Panthers who hit back late through a try to Soni Luke but the Broncos had done enough to secure their first win at Penrith since 2009.


International Rep
Apr 14, 2013
Very first finals game too. How do they leave that off?

Izzard had Kevvie for dinner- just kept running at him one on one to score two tries.

Alexander took advantage of some ordinary Kev marker work and scored.

Izzard from the scrum after a Kevvie dropped ball- runs at Kevvie and scores under the posts.

"That won't do Walters Kangaroo Tour chances any good at all."

McIndoe's try, not Kevvie fault but why was the Broncos giving the Panthers such width- Alexander- Fittler to an unmarked winger.

24-2 just after HT.

Allen puts Alf over and Matterson puts Renouf in for a try- his second in his career in game 14.

Kevvie runs 40m to end the game, pretty much untouched.

They fought well, ironically Cartwright was a bit of an issue. They'll beat Manly next week.


International Rep
Apr 14, 2013
Might be 2-0 in Finals to the Panthers but let's not forget the Pre-Season Challenge comeback!



International Rep
Apr 14, 2013
Was a good fight in that game with Gilly putting one on Geyer.


State of Origin Captain
Jun 13, 2019
Tallis beating into Ben Ross's head, does it get any better.

definition of **** around and find out.

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