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NRL Match Preview: Penrith Panthers vs New Zealand Warriors

Squads

Sunday, Sep 7, Panthers v Warriors, Sportingbet Stadium, 6.30pm

Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, William Smith, Jamie Soward, Nigel Plum, James Segeyaro, Sam McKendry, Lewis Brown, Matt Robinson, Sika Manu. Interchange: Kierran Moseley, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Sam Anderson, Tim Grant

Warriors: Sam Tomkins, Ngani Laumape, Konrad Hurrell, Dominique Peyroux, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Ben Henry, Simon Mannering, Sione Lousi. Interchange: Sam Rapira, Suaia Matagi, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Jayson Bukuya, Feleti Mateo

Segeyaro back, Kite and Simmons late inclusions?

Welcome back Chicko!  Penrith’s dynamic hooker and match winner is back after two weeks of personal leave to fly back to Papua New Guinea after the death of his father.  During this time his unpredictability out of dummy half has been sorely missed by the club.  Keirran Moseley debuted last weekend and did an excellent job against Manly Sea Eagles, but it goes without saying how much James Segeyaro can turn a game upside down.  The boys will be looking to win for Chicko this weekend.

So Ivan Cleary and the Penrith club are glad to have Segeyaro back.  Adam Docker has paid the price for one too many run ins with the Match Review Committee and is out for the next two matches.  It’s expected that Brent Kite will be ready to play this week after suffering a pectoral injury in our win against the Bulldogs.  We think if Kite plays that Moseley will be the unlucky player to miss out.  Dave Simmons may be an outside chance of playing as well.  If Simmons does play you would expect Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to make way.

Panthers injury/suspension update

Suspensions

Adam Docker – he will be out until week 2 of the Finals series after a guilty plea for his dangerous tackle against Manly last weekend.

Jeremy Latimore – he has one week to serve of his two week suspension for his supposed ‘crusher’ tackle on Bryan Norrie vs Storm.

Player/Injury/Return

ROUND 26 –

KEVIN KINGSTON: fractured his lateral tibial plateau in his knee. He will be out for another 3-5 weeks

DAVE SIMMONS: injured his shoulder. Will spend another week on the sideline

ELIJAH TAYLOR: Ruptured his ACL during the Bulldogs game. He is out for the season.

BRENT KITE: Tore his pec during the Bulldogs game, but it’s not as bad as we first thought. He will be out for another 3 weeks

BRYCE CARTWRIGHT: Fractured his fibula and did some ligament damage to his ankle which will require surgery. He is out for the season

PETER WALLACE: Ruptured his ACL during the Sharks game. He is out for the season.

TYRONE PEACHEY: Suffered a pec tear and will have surgery this week. He is out for the season.

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

SHAUN SPENCE: He is being rested for the remainder of the year after suffering a few concussions. He will hopefully be back for pre-season training.

http://www.penrithpanthers.com.au/team/injury-update.html

Warriors unchanged

The New Zealand Warriors couldn’t come into this game any better prepared after they thrashed the hapless Gold Coast Titans 42-0 at Mount Smart Stadium last Sunday.  Coach Andrew McFadden has named the same side with the addition of Feleti Mateo to an extended bench as their side faces a must-win game in the final match of the National Rugby League preliminary season.  They are closer to their full strength side than Penrith with Glen Fisiiahi (shoulder), Jerome Ropati (broken jaw) and Dane Nielsen (concussion) regulars missing from their line-up.

The implications for both sides

It’s a pretty simple equation for either side when it comes to a win in this game.

PENRITH PANTHERS WIN: guaranteed top four finish no matter the result of North Queensland and Manly on Saturday night.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS WIN: will finish eighth, if not seventh pending the Bulldogs and Titans result on Sunday afternoon.  Parramatta should they win have a substantial points differential to the Warriors (Warriors +96, Eels -90)

It’s not so clear cut if Penrith lose and for the Warriors it could be season ending.

PENRITH PANTHERS LOSS: worse case scenario is that Penrith could finish seventh but this depends on the Cowboys winning, and Bulldogs being ahead of Penrith on the points differential at the end of the round.  Best case scenario is the Cowboys and Bulldogs both lose, Penrith won’t finish any lower than fifth.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS LOSS: worse case scenario is they finish they miss out completely off the back of Parramatta winning in Canberra.  If the Eels lose, the Warriors need to lose by three points or less to scrape into eighth place.  This will give them the same points differential as Brisbane, but they have scored sixteen points more than the Broncos.

Really bad timing to play the last game of the season at 6:30pm on Sunday night, but the last game will determine so much as to who plays where in week 1 of the finals.

Panthers recent record good against Warriors

This is the thirty-eighth match between these two sides and arguably the most important since the 2003 Qualifying Grand Final at Stadium Australia on September 28 when the Panthers won 28-10.  Penrith have won on seventeen occasions, New Zealand Warriors fourteen with three draws.  Penrith have won three of the last five between these two teams at any venue.  At SportingBet Stadium the sides have met sixteen times, winning eight with one draw.  Penrith’s last match against the Warriors at home was when Isaac John steered Penrith to a near record breaking 62-6 win on May 18, 2013.

Preview

Panther fans who travelled to Brookvale left heartbroken after they saw they side give up a match winning 24-6 lead in going down by a point against the Sea Eagles.  Let’s hope Ivan Cleary has drummed into the players how proud he was of their efforts considering their poor showing against Melbourne a week earlier.  The Panthers still need to work on some of the fundamentals in their game.  Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made errors within two minutes of each other in the first half of last week’s game which gave Manly possession in our half.  The penalty count was a little high too like with the Storm match but luckily Manly weren’t any better.

With Segeyaro back Penrith have their ‘spine’ return featuring Matt Moylan and Jamie Soward.  Chicko will give the Panthers go forward and you would think our forwards will take advantage.  Don’t be surprised if Chicko makes ground out of dummy half and gets a quick play the ball to Lewis Brown or Josh Mansour.  This could be where Penrith hold the advantage.  Penrith will win this game if they can dominate at the play the ball both defensively in slowing down the Warriors, and in attack with quick speed playing the ball and getting a roll on.

This game will be intense and I expect both teams will play with a bundle of nerves.  It will be the team who handles the pressure better that will win.  Soward, Nigel Plum, Sika Manu and possibly Kite have the hardened National Rugby League experience to guide their team to victory.  Sam McKendry needs to step up and play at the same intensity for eighty minutes.  Matt Robinson plays his last game in Panther colours at home after signing with the Titans mid week and will be out for a big performance.

Shutting down the key players in Tomkins, Hurrell, Johnson, Vatuvei and captain Simon Mannering will go a long way to Penrith earning a top four finals spot and two chances to make week three of the finals.

There’s no doubt these two sides have plenty to play for as elimination type finals footy comes to Penrith one week early. There will be plenty of drama and controversy during this game.  In the lead-up there’s been drama of a different kind with referee Shayne Hayne struggling with injury.

There’s no doubt there are key match-ups:

Moylan vs Tomkins – Matt Moylan is the match winner and so is Sam Tomkins even though we haven’t seen his full potential yet after a move from Super League and the Wigan Warriors.

Idris vs Hurrell – Jamal Idris can be a handful in attack and he’ll need to be at his best against Konrad Hurell after the Warrior won on points in their last meeting.

Soward vs Johnson – Jamie Soward has discovered career best form at Penrith with his direction and control a reason why Penrith are in the finals series.  Shaun Johnson is a magician and at his best will destroy teams with his skills.

Where this game could be won is

Mansour v Vatuvei – both of these men can find the line, but both can on occasions put their side under pressure with handling errors in attack especially in their own half.  Both Soward and Johnson will expose these two in the air.  The one who wins this battle could be the difference between the two teams.

Penrith’s record at SportingBet is eight wins and two losses and on the road New Zealand Warriors have won four of their eleven matches.  The Warriors lost to Newcastle 28-22 in their last away match, but prior to that thumped Canberra 54-18 in the nations capital.  Penrith’s scores an average of three points more than their opposition in home games over the 2014 season where New Zealand Warriors average around two and a half points more than their opposition in away games.  Over the last five matches for each side, Penrith average 19.2 in attack and 18.4 in defense with three wins.  New Zealand Warriors average 29.2 in attack and 20.8 in defense also with three wins.

This goes to show how close the game will be.

Prediction

The return of James Segeyaro and the fact a depleted Panthers side almost got home against Manly at Brookvale last Sunday gives them the upper hand in this one.  I expect this to be a high scoring game, but Penrith to maintain their home record and win by six points which would mean a top four spot for Penrith and an exit for the Warriors.



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