The Panthers faithful feel “robbed” of a win by an uncalled forward pass that they did not get to redress in a tough match with the Roosters. The Knights were unable to repeat their win from the previous week, when the Bunnies gave them a lesson that in no way was influenced by the whistle-blowers (again ask the 15, 212 extra refs on the sideline).
Now the Knights head south-west to Peppers Stadium to face up the Panthers in the early match this Friday. Two relatively young sides (experience wise) who will not require the stadium towers to light up Friday night.
Last Time Out
Both teams played on Saturday afternoon and so will come in to the game equally rested. The battle between the Panthers and the Roosters was tight, the game was decided by a 73rd minute try, but to be honest the roosters had put in two tries to one before the dagger that the refs let slip by secured the victory.
The Knights were down to twelve men after captain Trent Hodkinson blamed the referees and was sin binned for his outburst. They pushed hard to level the game, but fell short on a Bunnies side that should have been down to twelve the moment Burgess tried to introduce his elbow to the judiciary.
So, both sides will be ready for the contest, both will be looking for their own form of redemption. They will be relying on their own skills rather than the luck of the whistle.
Te Maire Martin versus Brock Lamb will be the hardest factors to combat in this conflict. The eyes will be on the big names but it will be how these two can assist their halves partners, who will be attracting a lot of the attention. The defensive effort of Martin last week was enormous, a remarkable 35 tackles, beat out James Tamou, and combined with hooker Peter Wallace went a long way to keeping the game winnable. Lamb will have to lift his efforts to counter Martin’s style but still play his own game.
The second conflict will be between the experienced lock in Trent Merrin and Mitchell Barnett the 22-year-old who joined the Knights after the Raiders botched his contract in the middle of last season. He has inspired confidence from the Knights hierarchy and they extended his contract to 2020 and will now be out to prove he is worth every cent. Lining up against one of the game’s best will be a challenge and will be an excellent matchup to judge his progress.
If it came down to who comes in fresher, then the game against the Roosters would have taken more out of the Panthers than the Souths clash took out of the Knights. But the Panthers are a team with serious end of season expectations and will be looking to bank these points as safely as they can. The Knights will play the game style that let them crack the drought, and that may worry the locals, but I do not think it will be enough to get them the points. Panthers by 4.
Panthers: 1 Matt Moylan 2 Dean Whare 3 Waqa Blake 4 Tyrone Peachey 21 Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6 Te Maire Martin 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Peter Wallace 10 Regan Campbell-Gillard 11 Bryce Cartwright 12 Isaah Yeo 13 Trent Merrin 14 Peta Hiku 15 Leilani Latu 16 Viliame Kikau 17 Sitaleki Akauola 18 Moses Leota 19 Tim Browne 20 Dylan Edwards 22 Corey Harawira
Knights: 1 Brendan Elliott 2 Ken Sio 3 Dane Gagai 4 Peter Mata’utia 5 Nathan Ross 6 Brock Lamb 7 Trent Hodkinson 8 Daniel Saifiti 9 Danny Levi 10 Josh Starling 11 Sione Mata’utia 12 Jamie Buhrer 13 Mitchell Barnett 14 Luke Yates 15 Jack Stockwell 16 Sam Stone 17 Jacob Saifiti 18 Jacob Gagan 19 Joe Wardle 20 Josh King 21 Anthony Tupou