ROUND 18 V NEWTOWN JETS @ SportingBet Stadium, Saturday 12th July @ 3PM AEST
The 1st placed Penrith Panthers are looking for their 11th win in a row having won 14 of their last 15 games when they take on a Newtown Jets side that will be desperate to maintain touch with the top 8 after suffering a heavy 36-16 loss to the Cronulla Sharks last Saturday at Henson Park. The Panthers are closing in on the Cronulla Sharks’ record of 15 straight wins achieved last season & showed signs of returning to form last week against a depleted Wests Tigers side especially with a commanding first half performance that saw them pile on 30 unanswered points but again allowed a comeback of sorts before finishing off strong to record a 40-20 win.
The Panthers in their 10 game winning streak have played just three of those games at home so will welcome playing at home today against a side that they will meet in consecutive weeks such is the obscurity of the NSW Cup draw in season 2014.
Tale Of The Tape:
This is the first meeting between these two sides in 2014 with Penrith’s then feeder side Windsor Wolves, having won 1 & lost 1 in season 2013. Newtown will be further smarting after a last round loss to lowly Canterbury allowed the Wolves 4th spot & from there the run that took them all the way to the Grand Final so the Jets will be primed for revenge today.
A win for the Panthers will see them continue to set the pace at the top of the NSW Cup table & move within 4 wins of Cronulla’s 2013 15 game winning streak while a loss may allow Wentworthville to join them in top spot. Conversely a win for the Jets will keep them within touching distance of the top 8 rivals Newcastle (who play last placed North Sydney) & Wyong Roos (Bye) but a loss may open up a 3 point gap on their rivals for 8th spot so it’s a real die or die game for the Jets.
There will also be plenty of feeling in this game given that Anthony Cherrington lines up against his former team-mates which contains three ex-Panthers in Arana Taumata, Junior Vai Vai & Andrew Pearn.
A) Team Stats:
Attack: Panthers 29.41 ppg (2nd); Jets 24.35 ppg (8th)
Defense: Panthers 19.41 ppg (1st); Jets 27.18 ppg (10th)
Differential: Panthers 10 ppg (1st); Jets -2.82 ppg (9th)
B) Player Stats:
NRL Experience (based on listed teams):
Panthers 11 (564 games) including Kevin Kingston (182), Wes Naiqama (121), Tim Grant (117)
Jets 8 (135 games) including Nathan Stapleton (61), Scott Dureau (42)
Try Scorers: Panthers – K Naiqama 12 (4th), E Nabuli 10 (7th)
Points: Panthers – W Smith 84 (5th), W Naiqama 80 (=8th); Jets – N Stapleton 106 (2nd)
Tackles: Panthers – R Simpkins 530 (=5th); Jets– K Kara 533 (4th)
Runs: Panthers – S Anderson 204 (=4th)
Hit Ups: Panthers – S Anderson 161 (=5th), Reagan Campbell-Gillard 150 (8th)
Line Breaks: Panthers – E Nabuli 15 (4th), K Naiqama 14 (=5th)
Ball Receipts: Panthers – K Moseley 1020 (2nd), Jets– K Kara 803 (8th)
Panthers: IN – Waqa Blake, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Sam Anderson OUT – Ben Murdoch-Masila (Injured), Pat Hollis (RM Cup)
Coach Garth Brennan has still to finalise his 17 given he has Sam Anderson & Waqa Blake back from the NSW Cup representative side that played Queensland Residents last Wednesday night. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak returns from a 4 game suspension & whilst not named there is a chance that Kieran Moss will return from injury which may cause a reshuffle to both the starting line-up & a trimming of a five-man interchange bench that includes last week’s starting half Liam Ayoub & three-try winger Tom Eisenhuth. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi gets to start just his second game of the season replacing Ben Murdoch-Masila in the back row.
The team is as follows:
1. WILL SMITH 2. ETO NABULI 3. WAQA BLAKE 4. WES NAIQAMA 5. DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
6. TOM HUMBLE 7. LUKE CAPEWELL 8. SAM ANDERSON 9. KEVIN KINGSTON 10. TIM GRANT
11. VAIPUNA TIA KILIFI 12. MATT ROBINSON 13. RYAN SIMPKINS
INTERCHANGE: 14. REAGAN CAMPBELL-GILLARD 15. ANTHONY CHERRINGTON
16. KIERRAN MOSELEY 17. TOM EISENHUTH 18. LIAM AYOUB (1 TO OMIT)
COACH: GARTH BRENNAN
Jets: IN – Nathan Stapleton, Scott Dureau, Willis Meehan, Sio Suia Taukeiaho OUT – Chris Taripo (RM CUP)
Coach Greg Matterson welcomes back two NSW CUP rep players Willis Meehan & Nathan Stapleton who will be making his debut from the Jets given his reason move from the Cronulla Sharks. Scott Dureau will also make his debut for the Jets having been loaned by the Catalan Dragons to the Sydney Roosters for the remainder of 2014 & will no doubt prove to be useful foil to the ever dangerous Arana Tauamata in the halves. Damaging back rower Sio Suia Taukeiaho also returns to the team this week & with 8 players with NRL experience this will be a closer game than many pundits may predict such is the quality of the Jets line up today. Interesting to note that a 7 man interchange bench has been named including the Jets leading try scorer on 7 Johnathan Reuben.
The team is as follows:
1. NATHAN STAPLETON 2. BRETT LANE 3. SAMISONI LANGI 4. JUNIOR VAIVAI 5. MATT EVANS
6. ARANA TAUMATA 7. SCOTT DUREAU 8. WILLIS MEEHAN 9. KURT KARA © 10. SAULALA HOUMA
11. JACK SIEJKA 12. DAVID HARRIS 13. SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO
INTERCHANGE: 14. ANDREW PEARN 15. JACK NOBLE 16. JOSH DAVIS 17. RYAN VERLINDEN
18. JONATHON REUBEN 20. RHYSE MARTIN 24. BRAD BARRETT (3 TO OMIT)
COACH: GREG MATTERSON
The Panthers when you look across the teams named look to have too much class for what will no doubt be a spirited Jets side desperate to maintain contact with the top 8 as this pivotal stage of the season. Its reflected in the team named by coach Greg Matterson with no less than 8 players with NRL experience along with some exciting talent in Reuben, which belies their current 10th position on the table. On paper at least this game appears a mis-match in terms of experience with the Panthers boasting 11 players with nearly 600 NRL games experience while the Jets having just the 8 players with 135 games NRL games experience. That’s not to say that the side that runs on to the field on Saturday should be taken lightly given the quality of the Jets team, which still contains quite a few members of the 2012 NSW Cup premiership winning team & they know how to get the job done when it counts. Statistically the Panthers have a combined 13 point per game advantage over the Jets but I think this week the stats can be all but thrown out the window. These fixtures were tough affairs when it was the Wolves v Jets & I expect nothing less when the Jets come to SportingBet. The Panthers might get away with win number 11 in a row but it will be by a slender margin of 6 points.