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RD 10 MATCH PREVIEW: PENRITH PANTHERS VS CANBERRA RAIDERS

Squads

Raiders: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Mosese Pangai, Terry Campese (c), Josh McCrone, David Shillington, Glen Buttriss, Brett White, Josh Papalii, Jarrad Kennedy, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Paul Vaughan, Dane Tilse, Mitch Cornish, Shannon Boyd, Kyle O’Donnell, Sami Sauiluma

Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, David Simmons, Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace, Sam McKendry, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Tyrone Peachey, Adam Docker. Interchange: Matt Robinson, Jeremy Latimore, Isaah Yeo, Tim Grant

Plum replaced by Tim Grant

Penrith’s only team news this week is that Nigel Plum concussion out of last weeks game will see the prop forward miss the match against Canberra.  A picture floated around social media this week of Nigel in a neck brace cradling his newborn.  Ironic that both he and his wife ended up in hospital for totally different reasons.  Congrats to Nigel and his wife.  Plum rightfully was not charged by the National Rugby League Match Review Committee who were probably laughing at the officials for making such a poor decision to report the bloke for a charge down.  Nigel’s omission allows Tim Grant to return to the side from the bench.  Sam Anderson will travel with the squad as the eighteenth man.  Peter Wallace’s early guilty plea on a dangerous contact charge means he’s free to play this weekend.

Updated injury list courtesy of www.penrithpanthers.com.au

KEVIN KINGSTON: tore a ligament in his ankle during the Sharks game. He will be out for another couple of weeks

NIGEL PLUM: suffered a concussion in the Newcastle game and will miss a week

ELIJAH TAYLOR: suffered a grade 2 medial tear of his knee during the Sharks game. He will be out for another 3-4 weeks

DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: suffered a stress fracture in his foot and will be out for a couple of weeks, pending progress in rehab

LEWIS BROWN: injured his pec in our round 6 clash against Souths. He will be out for another 2 weeks

WES NAIQAMA: Tore ligaments in his ankle in the NSW Cup team’s win over Wests Tigers. He is likely to be out for another 2 weeks

SHAUN SPENCE: Had surgery on his knee. He will be out for another 2 weeks

GEORGE JENNINGS: Out for the season. He dislocated his elbow in our Auckland Nines quarter final and initially didn’t need surgery. But doctors recently reassessed this situation and he’s gone under the knife to repair some damage.

The Ricky Stuart effect strikes…

I recommend a good read from weloveleague talking about Ricky Stuart’s tenure in the Nation’s Capital from a frustrated Raiders fan.  The story is at http://www.weloveleague.com/2014/05/11/canberra-raiders-ricky-stuart-effect-strikes/.  Their last two weeks have leaked points and morale must be at an all time low.  And it’s surprising considering two of their three wins have been against South Sydney and Melbourne.  Stuart has got a little mad after last week’s result, and the madness continued this week when he named an impressive twenty-one man squad.  He could have easily chosen thirty.  At the end of the day he can only choose seventeen and I’m not sure if it’s good policy to make twenty-one players sweat over whether they will play this Sunday.  Jack Wighton has been effectively dumped in the halves with Josh McCrone and Terry Campese to play seven and six respectively.  Matt Allwood would feel unlucky being axed and not named on the extended bench.

Is it a matter of by how much?

So how much of a game is this?  For Penrith, it’s a matter of winning the matches that need to be won to send a warning to other NRL clubs that they are a force in 2014.  It’s also about continuing to work on combinations.  Wallace, Jamie Soward and Matty Moylan are working a lot better the last few weeks.  The ‘spine’ is complete with James Segeyaro and let’s face it, this is the 1-6-7-9 that Penrith will having going forward for the next couple of years as we take a tilt at the title.  Finally, it’s about breaking the win-loss cycle and gaining momentum into the middle part of the season.  String three or four wins together (like we’ve seen with Gold Coast Titans early this season) and you find yourself well on your way to the finals!

For Canberra to win they need a huge form reversal and to reverse their defensive effort.  This won’t be easy with an average 28.67 points conceded per game.  Their attack doesn’t fare any better having only scored one more point than Penrith with 162.  Penrith bucking the trend in the past two weeks with 20 and 32 points scored on the road.  Any team going down to Canberra needs to be wary, but most people who watch the game closely will know that it will take Canberra more than a week or two to get back into form.

Most tipsters will predict a Panthers win, so is it a matter by how much?

Round ten kind to the Panthers

Let’s talk stats… and Penrith’s success in round 10 since 2003, and their win-loss record at round ten

2003 – 6 wins, 3 losses.  Round 10 win over Canberra 26-18 (A) on May 17
2004 – 6 wins, 3 losses.  Round 10 was a bye round
2005 – 4 wins, 6 losses.  Round 10 loss over St George-Illawarra 12-34 (A) on May 13
2006 – 4 wins, 5 losses.  Round 10 win over South Sydney 32-20 (H) on May 14
2007 – 3 wins, 6 losses.  Round 10 was a bye round
2008 – 5 wins, 4 losses.  Round 10 win over NZ Warriors 46-22 (H) on May 18
2009 – 5 wins, 4 losses.  Round 10 win over Cronulla 26-22 (H) on May 16
2010 – 6 wins, 3 losses.  Round 10 win over Cronulla 34-14 (A) on May 16
2011 – 3 wins, 6 losses.  Round 10 win over Brisbane 33-10 (H) on May 13
2012 – 3 wins, 7 losses.  Round 10 win over St George-Illawarra 13-12 (H) on May 14
2013 – 4 wins, 6 losses.  Round 10 win over NZ Warriors 62-6 (H) on May 18

It’s a pretty impressive record in round 10 with eight wins and one loss since 2003.  And who won’t forget last year’s near record win over the Warriors 62-6?  The stats are good with the head to head against the Raiders at 32-all and two draws.  Penrith lost 12-24 in the corresponding match last year. Canberra have won three of the last five against Penrith at home with the 2008 horror 74-12 defeat now a distant memory. No surviving members of that side are in the current line-up.

How the game will be played

It’s pretty much certain this week that Canberra will be focused on defense, defense and defense.  The more they concentrate on defense, the added pressure of holding onto the footy in possession.  An inform Canberra side boasts Campese running at the line and punching the ball high in the air.  Anthony Milford not becoming a turnstile in defense and playing with plenty of attacking flare and without distractions of moving to a warmer Brisbane climate next year.  And in general a forward pack of White, Papalii, Shillington – all current or former Origin players putting teams under pressure.  Josh McCrone will niggle at the play the ball and be a general pain in the backside.  Shaun Fensom will be on a mission to lift his side with his consistent efforts.  If Canberra concentrate too much on the ‘D’, they won’t score enough points to beat a good Penrith outfit.

Penrith boast the fourth best defense going into the fixture at GIO Stadium and will be backing themselves for another big effort this weekend.  We talked about White, Papalii and Shillington being current or former rep players.  Penrith have Sika Manu, Brent Kite and Sam McKendry in the starting pack who have that experience.  The difference being this trio are in better form than their counterparts.   This game presents another chance for Segeyaro and Tyrone Peachey to show their value in the starting thirteen where they are likely to play over the coming years.  As I’ve said above, the ‘spine’ is starting to look good for the future and this game is another opportunity to strengthen their combination.  I expect Penrith to play an attacking game and put some points on with Jamal Idris having a big say in the result.  Mansour and Simmons could be in for a very good afternoon.  One thing Ivan will tell the boys before kick-off and remind them at the main break, don’t become complacent!

The verdict

This week will see Penrith break through for back-to-back wins and sit at six wins and four losses and inside the eight as they head into the first bye.

If we don’t win, I expect to be humiliated and forced to eat my words.



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