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RD 18 MATCH PREVIEW: PENRITH PANTHERS VS BRISBANE BRONCOS

SQUADS

Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Kevin Naiqama, Tyrone Peachey, Jamie Soward, Sam McKendry, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Elijah Taylor, Adam Docker. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Jeremy Latimore, Nigel Plum, Bryce Cartwright, Isaah Yeo

Broncos: Ben Barba, Daniel Vidot, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Dale Copley, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday. Interchange: Ben Hannant, David Hala, Corey Oates, Todd Lowrie, Jake Granville, Jarrod Wallace, David Stagg

PEACHEY’S UP FOR NUMBER SIX

It was great to see the Panthers bounce back from the Warriors loss and put in a fantastic team performance against the Tigers last weekend.  The only downside was Peter Wallace’s leg injury that will see him miss at least the next six weeks.  He would be bitterly disappointed not to be playing against his former club this week.  Is Tyrone Peachey up to filling Wallace’s shoes?  You bet!  He and Wallace are different types of players but in general Penrith don’t lose anything in defense, and probably gain in attack with Peachey’s speed at the line.  More about that in this preview.  It’s almost certain that Adam Docker despite being named will miss the match after a few head knocks of late.  If this change does happen expect Lewis Brown to start and the bench to be Latimore, Plum, Cartwright and one other after Yeo played VB NSW Cup on Saturday.  Yeo in the New South Wales v Queensland residents game where he scored a try in the losing team.  Cleary again having the luxury of having the bulk of his side available.

PANTHERS INJURY UPDATE (via penrithpanthers.com.au)

PETE WALLACE: Medial ligament tear in his knee. Will be out for 6 weeks

DAVE SIMMONS: Tore the medial ligament in his knee and will be out for another 2 weeks.

NATHAN SMITH: Fractured his T3 vertabrae. Should be back next week.

ISAAC JOHN: Ruptured his achilles in round 9. Out for the season.

GEORGE JENNINGS: He dislocated his elbow in our Auckland Nines quarter final and underwent surgery to repair the damage. Out for the season

BRONCOS ORIGIN STARS BACK UP FIVE DAYS AFTER ORIGIN

Usually the Friday night hogs, Brisbane have a rare Monday night game.  This can only suit Sam Thiaday, Justin Hodges, Corey Parker and co after another bruising Origin encounter where Queensland won the dead rubber.  Andrew McCullough, Parker and Matt Gillett are the notable additions to the squad for this game as the Broncos try to put behind them the loss to Cronulla Sharks on June 27.  Anthony Griffin’s men are almost at full strength with only Martin Kennedy and Mitch Dodds on the sideline through injury.  They boast a five win and three loss record on the road this season.

BRISBANE DOMINATE, BUT DIFFERENT STORY AT PENRITH

Monday night will be the fifty-first time the Panthers and Broncos have met.  Penrith have won eighteen matches, the Broncos thirty, with two draws.  At SportingBet Stadium, Penrith have won ten matches, Brisbane eleven with one draw.  The last two games have been won by Penrith at home.  In 2011 Penrith won 33-10 with Brad Tighe scoring a double in victory.  When these two teams last met, it was a Friday night for James Segeyaro to remember.  The interchange hooker scored a hat-trick as Penrith dominated Brisbane in the second half, on their way to a 28-12 win.  Penrith will be hoping that they not only get the two points on Monday night, but keep their home record in tact.  They have only lost once in 2014 at SportingBet.

WHAT COULD HAPPEN

This game is vital to both team’s season with only ten matches remaining.  A Penrith win here will move within four points of the magical thirty point mark seen as the minimum required to make the finals.  For Brisbane victory here will keep them in the hunt to finish in the top four in such a congested top eight.

There’s no doubt Penrith play better at home but there will be question marks whether they have the team to beat the Broncos now that Peter Wallace is out.  I believe they lose nothing with Tyrone Peachey playing at six.  It’s fair to say that Wallace has a superior kicking game, but the defense is quite similar and both players bring something different in attack – in a good way.  Peachey has a great running game capable of finding the gap and making clean breaks.  Wallace is gritty, thoughtful and shows a good set of hands in attack.  For this type of game where the Broncos will play grinding footy it might be Peachey that can break the game open and give Penrith the upper hand.  Ivan Cleary wouldn’t have picked Peachey in the six jumper if he thought he couldn’t bring the game required for that role.

Expect Penrith to play a simple game plan in the dewy winter conditions of western Sydney.  Complete sets of six and get to the kick.  Play expansive footy when they are in the Broncos half.  Get Matt Moylan involved in play within the oppositions twenty.  Run a few decoys with Moylan chiming into the backline and finding Dean Whare on his outside in space.  Penrith’s completion rate was good last week and discipline improved from the loss against New Zealand Warriors.  The forwards must dominate against the Broncos pack.  Sika Manu is in some great form at the moment and I feel right now he’s leading the forward pack.  Brent Kite is consistent, Elijah Taylor is workman-like.  But it could be the flair of James Segeyaro to catch the markers out at dummy half that will cause the Broncos nightmares like in the corresponding fixture last year.

For Brisbane expect them to play a forward dominated game through Sam Thiaday, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett.  Parker’s off-load will need to be watched by the Panthers so it doesn’t allow the likes of Ben Hunt to create second phase play when attacking twenty metres from the tryline.  Hunt looks good with the caliber of attacking power the Broncos have out wide but I feel he’s still overrated.  If you looked at this match-up preseason you would have thought Ben Barba would have been the key to the Broncos chances.  Barba’s struggled to find his feet at the Broncos but it only takes one game to change all that.  It does seem that opposing teams have woken up to Barba’s influence on the game and kept him contained.  Justin Hodges has the strength to be dangerous out wide and his duel with Jamal Idris could go a long way to determining which team takes home the two points.  Dale Copley can’t be ignore on the outside of Hodges with his try scoring record.

PENRITH IN A NAILBITER

Of course we are going to say Penrith will win because that’s who we support.  The facts are quite clear, Penrith have won six out of seven at home.  The factors leading to this record are: better structure in attack, great defense and outstanding commitment.  No doubt Brisbane will be up for this match and have been pretty good away from home this year.  I think defense wins this game and with the Panthers only averaging twelve points against at home they should be able to record victory eleven for season 2014.



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