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#VBNSWCUP MATCH PREVIEW – Penrith Panthers vs Newtown Jets

ROUND 19 V NEWTOWN JETS @ Allianz Stadium, Saturday 19th July @ 12:40PM AEST

The 1st placed Penrith Panthers are looking for their 12th win in a row having won 15 of their last 16 games when they take on a Newtown Jets side that will be even more desperate to maintain touch with the top 8 after suffering a 36-20loss to the Panthers last week & now face the ardous task of turning this result around in the space of just 7 days such is the obscurity of the NSW Cup draw in 2014. The Panthers are closing in on the Cronulla Sharks’ record of 15 straight wins achieved last season & while they again had a mid-second half lapse in concentration that allowed the Jets to get to within 6 points with less than 10 minutes remaining, the Panthers were able to regroup & finish out the game the stronger to gain the 2 points.

Tale Of The Tape:

This is the second meeting between these two sides in 2014 in consecutive weeks after Penrith took the honours last week 36-20. A loss here for the Jets with just 6 rounds remaining after this weekend could be terminal for their finals hope given they are already 3 points behind 8th placed Newcastle who also have the bye this week hence I expect Newtown to come out really pumped up for this one. The Jets are playing at the home of their NRL feeder club, the Sydney Roosters, who announced early in the week their 9 year partnership will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2014 season so it will be interesting to see whether this invokes even more spirit on the playing field against the Panthers.

Conversely a win for the Panthers will see them continue to set the pace at the top of the NSW Cup table & move within 3 wins of Cronulla’s 2013 15 game winning streak. A loss may allow Wentworthville to close to within 1 win of top spot, although the Panthers still have the luxury of the bye to come.

There will also be plenty of feeling in this game given that Anthony Cherrington lines up against his former team-mates which contains two ex-Panthers in Junior Vai Vai & Andrew Pearn.

Key Stats:

A)     Team Stats:

Attack: Panthers 29.78 ppg (1st); Jets 24.11 ppg (8th)

Defense: Panthers 19.44 ppg (1st); Jets 27.67 ppg (11th)

Differential: Panthers 10.33 ppg (1st); Jets -3.56 ppg (9th)

B)      Player Stats:

NRL Experience (based on listed teams):

Panthers 10 (689 games) including Kevin Kingston (182), Nathan Smith (128), Wes Naiqama (121), Tim Grant (117)

Jets 7 (120 games) including Nathan Stapleton (61), Scott Dureau (42)

Try Scorers: Panthers – K Naiqama 12 (5th), E Nabuli 11 (=6th)

Points: Panthers – W Smith 90 (4th), W Naiqama 86 (5th); Jets – N Stapleton 110 (2nd)

Ball Receipts: Panthers – K Moseley 1082 (2nd), Jets – K Kara 902 (4th)

Runs: Panthers – S Anderson 215 (=4th)

Run Metres: Panthers – S Anderson 1,908 (4th), R Campbell-Gillard 1,683 (10th)

Tackle Breaks: Panthers – B Murdoch-Masila 48 (7th); Jets – S Houma 61 (2nd)

Line Breaks: Panthers – E Nabuli 15 (4th), K Naiqama 13 (=5th)

Kick Receipts: Jets – J Reuben 65 (5th)

Hit Ups: Panthers – S Anderson 169 (8th)

Kick Metres: Jets – A Taumata 2,110 (5th)

Tackles: Panthers – R Simpkins 565 (5th), K Moseley 487 (9th); Jets – K Kara 567 (4th)

Team Changes:

Panthers: IN – Nathan Smith OUT – Isaah Yeo (NRL)

Coach Garth Brennan has still to finalise his 17 given he has Tom Eisenhuth & Liam Ayoub on a 6 man interchange bench which also includes Nathan Smith, making his return from injury. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi gets to start just his second game of the season replacing Isaah Yeo in the back row.

The team is as follows:

1. KIERAN MOSS 2. ETO NABULI 3. WAQA BLAKE 4. WILL SMITH 5. WES NAIQAMA

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. KIERRAN MOSELEY

16. ANTHONY CHERRINGTON 17. NATHAN SMITH 18. TOM EISENHUTH 19. LIAM AYOUB (2 TO OMIT)

COACH: GARTH BRENNAN

Jets: IN – Nathan Stapleton, Kane Evans, Rhyse Martin, Ray Moujalli OUT – Arana Taumata (Injured), Willis Meehan (NYC), Jack Noble (18th man), Chris Taripo (RM CUP)

Coach Greg Matterson welcomes new recruit Nathan Stapleton into his side for this vital clash having missed last week’s 36-20 loss to the Panthers. Kane Evans returns to the Jets strangely in place of Willis Meehan who had a massive game in a beaten Jets side last week. In a blow for the Jets, Arana Taumata has succumbed to a sternum injury picked up last week which means Samisoni Langi will shift from the centres to five-eighth to partner another new recruit, Scott Dureau, who looked better and better the longer the game went last week. Experienced prop, Ray Moujalli also returns to the side on a 5 man interchange bench.

The team is as follows:

1. JONATHON REUBEN 2. BRETT LANE 3. NATHAN STAPELTON 4. JUNIOR VAIVAI 5. MATT EVANS

6. SAMISONI LANGI 7. SCOTT DUREAU 8. KANE EVANS 9. KURT KARA © 10. RYAN VERLINDEN

11. RHYSE MARTIN 12. BRAD BARRETT 13. SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO

INTERCHANGE: 14. ANDREW PEARN 15. DAVID HARRIS 16. JOSH DAVIS 17. RAY MOUJALLI

20. JACK NOBLE (1 TO OMIT)

COACH: GREG MATTERSON

The Verdict

Throw the form guide out this week with both teams having played one another last weekend. The Jets would have been buoyed by the second half comeback last week & would know that it was only an errant pass that allowed the Panthers to regain their composure to secure the 2 points with two late tries. The Jets will also be spurred by the fact that on the field a win keep their season well & truly alive while a loss could see them fall 5 points behind 8th placed with just 6 rounds remaining hence there will be a grand final style preparation from the Jets this week. Nathan Stapleton & Kane Evans are big inclusions for the Jets & the loss of Arana Taumata will be mitigated by Samisoni Langi joining Scott Dureau in the halves, with the on-loan Catalans half showing last week he will be a more than useful acquisition.

The Panthers while you look across the teams named look to have too much class with 10 players with NRL experience versus the Jets 7, 4 of those players (Kingston, N Smith, W Naiqama & Grant) accounts for nearly 80 percent of that experience. The Panthers will be favourites for this game but the Jets will be fired up for many reasons. Panthers to win game number 12 in a row by 4 points.

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