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RD 6 MATCH PREVIEW: PENRITH PANTHERS V SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

Squads

Panthers

1 Matt Moylan 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3 Dean Whare 4 Jamal Idris 5 Josh Mansour 6 Jamie Soward 7 Peter Wallace (c) 8 Sam McKendry 9 Kevin Kingston (c) 10 Tim Grant 11Sika Manu 12 Elijah Taylor 13 Adam Docker Interchange 14 James Segeyaro 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Lewis Brown 17 Nigel Plum 18 Isaah Yeo

Rabbitohs

1 Greg Inglis 2 Nathan Merritt 3 Dylan Walker 4 Joel Reddy 5 Bryson Goodwin 6 John Sutton (c) 7 Adam Reynolds 8 Dave Tyrrell 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 George Burgess 11 Kyle Turner 12 Ben Te’o 13 Sam Burgess Interchange 14 Cameron McInnes 15 Chris McQueen 16 Jason Clark 17 Luke Burgess 18 Alex Johnston 19 Ben Lowe 20 Joe Picker

Unchanged and prepared for battle

Ivan Cleary had no reason to change the team after last weekend’s hard fought win over Canberra Raiders.  Isaah Yeo was added to the bench as the eighteenth man.  Word is that Brent Kite will be a late inclusion.

It’s as if last weekend’s hit out was the ultimate preparation for the game against South Sydney.  A dour defensive struggle where you needed to take the opportunities as they presented themselves.  Penrith did that twice last weekend with the Campese penalty leading to Mansour’s half time score, and Dave Shillington’s knock on directly leading to the match-winning try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.  DWZ became the first Panther on debut to score a double.

South Sydney ready for the blockbuster

South Sydney also named an unchanged line-up from their victory over early front runner St George-Illawarra last weekend. What’s a bit surprising is the extended seven man bench selected for this game.  Apisai Koroisau is one player we won’t be familiar with.  He fills the number nine jumper with Isaac Luke out with a shoulder problem.  Another relative unknown second row forward Kyle Turner who is seen as a big part of the Rabbitohs future.  The likely suspects are there.  Sutton, Inglis, the Burgess boys and Nathan Merritt, who will be looking to break the South Sydney record for the most number of tries for the club.  South Sydney were very good on their line last weekend and received a generous penalty count in their favour.  Eliminate the penalties and take the opportunities Penrith did when they presented like last weekend, and the home side is in with a big chance of beating one of the National Rugby League premiership heavyweights.

Good South Sydney record in the last decade gives Penrith hope

This will be the eighty-fourth time these two sides have faced each other in competition with South Sydney ahead 45-36 with two draws.  Penrith’s last win against South Sydney was on May 30, 2011 where Penrith won the Monday night fixture 22-10.  Despite losing the last two home games against the Bunnies, Penrith won eight straight between 2003 and 2011.  This included a 54-18 victory where Penrith led by a remarkable 40 points at half time and Panther legend Michael Gordon scored a club record thirty points in the match.  Penrith will be looking for four straight victories at home, while South Sydney have won one from three on the road this season.  There’s plenty of reasons to think that the boys can win this game.

How the game could be played out

There’s a likelihood that this could be another wet weather football game but hopefully the conditions are more friendlier for players then last week.

Expect this again to be a forward battle with Sam and George Burgess ready to smash the Panthers apart.  Strategically early Adam Docker and Nigel Plum need to stamp their authority and put some big shots on these two boys.  Early intimidation may result in South Sydney not being so confident to play the game in the forwards.  Afterall, Apisai Koroisau and Kyle Turner are new to this level and Penrith have an experience forward pack that could be bolstered with Kite’s possible inclusion.

Penrith won’t be afraid to chance their arm.  After criticism up here in Queensland that Jamal Idris would struggle with his fitness, he’s been very good the last couple of weeks.  Especially getting the side out of trouble a few times.  At the end of the day it comes down to forward momentum and it’s time for Tim Grant and Sam McKendry to deliver.  They must break the line and follow it up with a quick play the ball to allow Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace to create a play.  With good quality ball Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will finish tries.  Jamal Idris is due to score his first too.  Matty Moylan chiming into the Panthers back line.  Penrith have the capability of matching the scoring prowess of the Bunnies.  Bring it on!

South Sydney will throw the kitchen sink at Penrith.  Inglis has always been a handful for us and John Sutton seems to get the better of us when we play the Bunnies.  These two men in particular need to be kept very quiet.  Add to that Adam Reynolds.  Although he doesn’t seem to have reached the same level as when he burst onto the scene.

This game as much as the influence the play makers will have on this game, will come down to discipline.  Penrith will need to show more respect for the football and not give the pill up in their own half.  The other apsect of discipline is not conceding penalties. Let’s hope Ashley Klein and Adam Gee don’t wrack up a favourable penalty count to the Bunnies, like what they received last week from Gavin Badger and Alan Shortall.

The verdict

Whether it’s one point, or twenty points; Penrith should be able to go four from four at home.  This side mentally slipped up against Parramatta two weeks ago but made up for a very good performance last week in the wet.  South Sydney don’t look as strong on paper given Isaac Luke’s injury.  As a result, South Sydney haven’t been as dominant in the competition.  It’s a vital game with the competition so even, to get in a position to be four from six at the start of the season.  I think hunger, desperation in defense and Soward/Wallace’s impact of the game will steer Penrith in the right direction.

And one final thing… you have to be there (if you can) to support!

 



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