Date: Saturday September 5, 2015

Venue: Pepper Stadium

Kick-Off: 3pm

Panthers: 1. Will Smith 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Lewis Brown 5. David Simmons 6. Apisai Koroisau 7. Jamie Soward 8. Sam McKendry 9. James Segeyaro 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Tyrone Peachey 13. Isaah Yeo Interchange: 14. Tupou Sopoaga 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Leilani Latu 17. Sika Manu

Knights: 1. Jake Mamo 2. Nathan Ross 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Dane Gagai 5. Akuila Uate 6. Kurt Gidley 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Korbin Sims 11. Beau Scott 12. Tariq Sims 13. Chris Houston. Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Clint Newton 17. Sam Mataora

Preview

It’s a battle for the unwanted wooden spoon as Penrith Panthers host Newcastle Knights at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.

For the record, Penrith have run last on four occasions with their last being in 2007 under the guidance of Matt Elliott.  Newcastle have only ended up with the honour in 2005 in a side that boasted superstar Andrew Johns and current coach Danny Buderus.

Both sides sit at the wrong end of the table for completely different reasons.

Newcastle got off to a flyer with an unbeaten March which saw them top of the ladder.  Yet the next twelve games only yielded one victory against Wests Tigers.  Despite a big win over the Titans coach Rick Stone was shown the door one week later after an inept display against South Sydney.

Buderus deserves some credit to restore some pride in the Knights jumper winning twice in their last six.  They competed well against Canterbury Bulldogs and quite possibly could have won the game if it wasn’t for Akuila Uate making a couple of mistakes towards full time when the game was on the line.

Penrith on the other hand yet again suffered through injury.  Critics will be quick to compare last year’s remarkable season too struck with injury problems and say it shouldn’t of made a difference.  You could also argue Matt Moylan, Dean Whare, Jamie Soward, Josh Mansour and Jamal Idris made a total of 121 appearances for the Panthers in 2014, but only managed to make 56 in total up til the final round.  A disrupted 2015 season with the 2014 ‘spine’ missing in action.

Penrith’s season ground to a halt after victory against an Origin depleted South Sydney in early July and since have recorded one victory in the last eight.  At times they’ve shown competitiveness by almost completing the double on the defending premiers and narrowly going down to the Dragons in a must win game for the Red V.  Last week they lacked punch in the opening half hour as Canberra went on to record an easy victory.

For Ivan Cleary it’s the same seventeen named that went down in the Nations Capital on Monday night but it’s certain there will be personnel changes.  It’s very unlikely Bryce Cartwright and Jamie Soward will take the field.  Cartwright suffered a lacerated kidney during the game and Soward ended up worse for ware after a sickening tackle by Jack Wighton.  Both spending time in hospital post game.

Newcastle just have one change with Adam Clydsdale returning from illness at hooker, Tyler Randell relegated to the bench.  Danny Levi dropping out of the side.

Penrith will farewell a host of players on Saturday afternoon.  David Simmons joins Brent Kite and Nigel Plum in retirement.  Lewis Brown and Api Koroisau are off to Trent Barrett’s Sea Eagles.  Sika Manu heads off to the Super League with Hull FC.

Kurt Gidley plays his last game in Knights colours before a move to Warrington Wolves next year.  Clint Newton and David Fa’alogo enter retirement.  Tyrone Roberts will partner Kane Elgey at the Titans in 2016 and Beau Scott joins the Eels.

This game is wide open and with good conditions expected on Saturday at Pepper Stadium expect a high scoring game.  Penrith’s vulnerability up the middle is matched by Newcastle’s defence out wide.  Expect a little bit of magic from Dane Gagai and Will Smith, with departing Gidley and Simmons looking to add to their impressive NRL stats one last time.  Gidley having scored 80 tries and 1,228 points and Simmons 104 tries, his last also his 200th.

If history between these two teams means anything, Newcastle should avoid the wooden spoon.  They have won six of the last eight against these two sides.  Penrith have only won three of the last ten against the Knights at home.

Prediction Newcastle to avoid the wooden spoon and send out Kurt Gidley a winner. Knights by 6

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Editor of nothingbutleague since site inception in 2013. Massive Penrith Panthers fan (Member 13120). Email: mattpnbl@outlook.com