Ten years ago on an epic night at Stadium Australia Penrith Panthers prop forward Martin Lang took the ball up and was hit high by Adrian Morley. Despite being concussed, Lang continued and was part of the legendary Panthers team to win on that great night. Later in the game Todd Byrne was chased down when in the clear by a Scott Sattler tackle around the legs which saw the speedster bundled into touch. Luke Priddis toiled in the wet conditions and was named the Clive Churchill best player on field.
You get the feeling that the Penrith Panthers need that type of inspiration right now after two heavy defeats at the hands of Newcastle and Cronulla. This is not the type of form you want to take into a game against the Roosters who will back themselves to defend tirelessly even without the suspended Sonny-Bill Williams.
In their previous encounter the Roosters won 30-6 after a second half double from ex-Panther Michael Jennings put his previous club away with scores 10-6 at the break. He continues to get good quality ball from the halves combination of Pearce and Maloney. The two halves playing at Origin level in a beaten Blues side. Shaun Kenny-Dowall has improved in recent weeks providing a handful for the opposition, and Boyd Cordner has been one of the Roosters best with the second-rower crossing for seven tries this season.
What can be said about the Panthers is that no-one has stepped up to the plate in the last few weeks following Nigel Plum’s injury. The Docker-Plum combination has been missing and Docker to some extent hasn’t been able to flex his muscles without his fellow hit-man. Kevin Kingston had a quiet game last week and Luke Walsh wasn’t able to get the quality ball out wide because the forwards weren’t making ground up-field.
So who can be the Martin Lang, Luke Priddis and Scott Sattler tomorrow night as we remember our heroes of ’03?
Well Tim Grant is due for a big game. He was out with a broken hand earlier in the season but he needs to find that form which saw him earn Origin selection in 2012. In six years he’s played over one hundred games for the club and this game is no better stage to remind selector’s he’s still capable playing at a higher level.
James Segeyaro hasn’t quite had the impact the former North Queensland Cowboy did earlier in the season. Last week he ran the Sharks around in circles in the second half. Segeyaro needs to get good quick play the balls to scoot out from dummy half when he gets onto the field. Maybe in a big game like this Ivan Cleary might take a punt and start Segeyaro at hooker with Kingston floating somewhere in the forward pack.
And Matt Moylan stood out on debut against Parramatta and we need another big game from the rookie. He needs to be wary of the high ball and continue to be safe at the back, but work hard in attack to be in the right position running onto a Isaac John or Luke Walsh pass.
The Panthers best chance of the night comes if the Roosters don’t respect the football and are off their game. The Roosters have now won their last five, and five seems to be the magic number for winning streaks with their loss to the Storm on May 25 ending a previous long-running streak. Could it be as simple as a numbers game, or is this a game the Roosters ‘need to lose’?
Don’t discount the Panther, all will be revealed tomorrow night at Centrebet Stadium.