Record: 13 wins, 11 losses
Ladder: 7th position
What looked like a promising season for the Penrith Panthers turned out to be somewhat of a let down, only just making it into the top eight. At the end of 2016 and during the preseason, it was a collective belief they would potentially go on to win the competition, however the pressure seemed to take its toll, and it took the team a while to get into the groove and win the games that got them into the top eight. Their wins were impressive, and at times they were the team to beat.
The team managed to go on and win seven games in a row, which gave them a boost of confidence they needed before heading into the finals, despite losing the final two games of the regular season. After being beaten convincingly by Manly in their round twenty six match, they went on to play them again in the first week of the finals where they managed to beat their opposition 22 points to 10, kicking Manly out of the competition. The Panthers made it to the second week of the finals before they were beaten by the Broncos in a low scoring match at Suncorp Stadium.
It was an on and off season for the Penrith Panthers, however not one for them to be ashamed of. The loss of Matt Moylan towards the end had some significance, however his departure was nothing halves partner Nathan Cleary couldn’t handle. The back end of the season was the most impressive, and it was a shame to see them bow out of the competition in the way they did. Now they look forward to 2018.
Moylan’s Late Downfall
Captain Matt Moylan had suffered an injury that kept him off the field for a few weeks, however that seemed to be the least of his worries when news emerged that the 26 year old was in need of and seeking help in order to properly deal with mental issues he has been dealing with recently. The club made a statement saying that he is completely committed to the club, and will live out his contract which has recently been extended until the end of the 2021 season. However, with regards to his wellbeing, the club said this: “In the short term we are giving Matt some time away from the game to deal with some personal issues and we hope that people will respect his privacy.” His departure from the club was a worry to start with, however Nathan Cleary has taken control of the club in a brilliant way, to compensate for the loss of Moylan until further notice. The five-eighth was out and about at the NRL fan day just recently, his first public appearance since the news of his time away from the game, giving fans hope that he is recovering well and will be back better than ever for the 2018 season and beyond.
Edwards and May Had Impact
Positional changes and injuries to captain Matt Moylan throughout the year have seen Dylan Edwards and Tyrone May come through first grade and successfully contribute to the Penrith Panthers as a team. Edwards made the move to fullback after Moylan was moved to five-eighth. He has been a brilliant asset to the side, and has done justice to the fullback position, being an important part of the makeup of the team. Tyrone May has stepped into the five-eighth position just recently, once again at the extent of Moylan, who suffered an injury a few weeks ago. He and Cleary have been a great partnership in the halves, and have come up with some magic that has assisted the Panthers in gaining a few victories in the later part of the season. Both players have had a substantial impact to the team and will continue to whilst they are at the club.
Didn’t Live Up to the Hype
They were one of the most backed teams leading into the 2017 season, however Anthony Griffin and the Penrith Panthers failed to live up to the hype surrounding them. In fact, they started their season quite poorly, and only gained momentum in the later part of the season; fortunately for them, by the time they started to win, it was enough time for them to sneak into the top eight, and they did so in an impressive manner. The Panthers seemed to crack under the pressure put on them by the media throughout the off-season, which was a significant reason as to why they didn’t finish as high on the ladder as everyone had expected. The way they finished their season was exciting, and gave hope to the fans for a potentially promising 2018 season.
Slow Start Led to Strong Finish
The side won three games in the first ten rounds of the 2017 NRL season, which was upsetting for the fans of the club and the game to see considering the strong belief in them being a title contender for the season. Nevertheless, after a very slow start, the Panthers eventually gained some momentum and finished up strong, despite bowing out in a devastating way against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Of their last nine games in the regular season, they won seven, before winning their first finals match and losing the second. It was a relatively up and down season for the Penrith Panthers, leaving fans with mixed emotions through the whole year. Despite the disappointment of their departure, the fans should be proud of how they managed to pull up and finish their season, especially after such a gut wrenching beginning ten rounds. Better luck for next year!
2018 GAINS AND LOSSES:
GAINS: No 2018 gains.
LOSSES: Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington Wolves), Zach Dockar-Clay (Hull Kingston Rovers), Peta Hiku (Warrington Wolves), Samisoni Langi (Leigh Centurions), Te Maire Martin (North Queensland Cowboys), Michael Oldfield (Canberra Raiders), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Wests Tigers)