Penrith Panthers

Current ladder position: Third

Points differential: +66

Run Home: Dragons (A), Cowboys (H), Storm (H), Sea Eagles (A), Warriors (H)

Prediction

Penrith have only been out of the top eight for one week during the 2014 National Rugby League premiership.  A lot of the credit can be given to smart recruiting over the last couple of seasons with Ivan Cleary at the helm and Phil Gould in the back office.  An incredible mid-season run of six straight wins has resulted in the club running third with five matches remaining.

If thirty points is the cut-off to make the finals, Penrith are one win away.  They would be expected to pick up two competition points at WIN Stadium despite their injury toll.   With an impressive eight wins and one loss at home, the Panthers will be aiming to score two out of three home wins which could be enough to land a top four spot and just two wins away from making the Grand Final.

Injuries are the obvious concern with Elijah Taylor, Brent Kite, Bryce Cartwright, Peter Wallace and Tyrone Peachey on the long term list.  They are fortunate to have capable replacements in a successful NSW Cup side who have secured the minor premiership.  Matt Robinson, Tim Grant and Kevin Kingston are capable replacements in the forward pack while Will Smith was solid on debut against the Bulldogs last weekend.

Penrith will make the finals, and it’s a matter now of maintaining a good home record to be rewarded with a top four spot.  Injuries however may be the different when they compete with the likes of South Sydney and Manly Sea Eagles in the finals series.