NRL match preview: Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm


Monday, Aug 25, Panthers v Storm, Sportingbet Stadium, 7pm

Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, William Smith, Jamie Soward, Nigel Plum, James Segeyaro, Sam McKendry, Sika Manu, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jeremy Latimore, Tim Grant

Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, William Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Marika Koroibete, Ben Roberts, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Tim Glasby, Tohu Harris, Junior Moors, Jordan McLean

James Segeyaro to miss Storm match

James Segeyaro will miss this week’s game against the Storm with the number nine returning to Papua New Guinea following the passing of his father at the end of the week.  QLDPanthers extend our deepest condolences to James and his family at their loss. Segeyaro was under an injury cloud after suffering an ankle injury following our huge win over the Cowboys last weekend.  He confirmed mid week through social media he would be right to play before he received the terrible news.  Kevin Kingston was rested from our NSW Cup win over Mounties on Saturday and is certain to return to the side for the first time since April 26.  We will wait and see if Kingston starts as Ivan Cleary might opt for Lewis Brown to start at hooker.  Cleary earlier in the week named an unchanged seventeen.

Panthers injury update

DAVE SIMMONS: injured his shoulder. Will spend another week on the sideline

ELIJAH TAYLOR: Ruptured his ACL during the Bulldogs game. He is out for the season.

BRENT KITE: Tore his pec during the Bulldogs game, but it’s not as bad as we first thought. He will be out for another 3 weeks

BRYCE CARTWRIGHT: Fractured his fibula and did some ligament damage to his ankle which will require surgery. He is out for the season

PETER WALLACE: Ruptured his ACL during the Sharks game. He is out for the season.

TYRONE PEACHEY: Suffered a pec tear and will have surgery this week. He is out for the season.

ISAAC JOHN: Ruptured his achilles in round 9. Out for the season.

GEORGE JENNINGS: He dislocated his elbow in our Auckland Nines quarter final and underwent surgery to repair the damage. Out for the season

SHAUN SPENCE: He is being rested for the remainder of the year after suffering a few concussions. He will hopefully be back for pre-season training.


Storm big guns set to challenge Penrith

Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy has selected the same seventeen for this week’s clash with only one minor change, Ryan Hinchcliffe to start and Jordan McLean back to the interchange bench.  They’ve won four of their last five matches and were set to win in Newcastle a fortnight ago before Akuila Uate’s try on full time gave the Knights an unlikely win.  Some may say the Storm’s last three games (Tigers, Knights and Sharks) has given them an easy run at the back end of the season.  Well they’re about to be tested.  The Storm come to SportingBet with the big three in Slater, Cronk and Smith albeit not as threatening as they get older.  Despite this expect the trio to throw the kitchen sink at the Panthers as they aim to keep slim hopes alive of a top four finish.  A loss here could result in the Storm being at the bottom of the eight and needing a victory over the Roosters or Brisbane to make the finals series.  This is an unusual position for the Storm to be in at finals time.

Storm dominate proceedings but won’t have it all their own way

This will be the twenty-ninth time the Panthers and Storm have met, with the Storm holding a commanding twenty wins to seven record, with one match drawn.  In the last ten years Penrith have won four times from seventeen attempts.  Their most recent win was the last time these two teams met at SportingBet Stadium as they recorded a gutsy 12-10 victory last year.  On that night David Simmons scored a double with Travis Robinson the other try scorer.  When these two teams met on March 15, Peter Wallace had a chance to win the game on the full time siren but missed the penalty conversion in going down 17-18.  Penrith’s record at SportingBet Stadium in 2014 is eight wins from nine matches.  Melbourne on the road are five wins from ten matches.


Another big game for both Melbourne and Penrith as the positions in the top eight start to take shape, or do they?

The top two sides in Manly and Souths have suffered defeats this round which still gives Penrith an outside chance of taking out the minor premiership if they win all their remaining matches.  I think Ivan Cleary has his team focused on the job at hand this week and not looking too further ahead.  A win will assure Penrith of a top four finals finish.

As for Melbourne, a loss combined with a Warriors win against the Roosters today could see them drop to eighth place and having to meet the Roosters and Broncos in the next few weeks to secure a finals spot.  A win could see the Storm jump to fifth and ahead of the Bulldogs and all of a sudden into top four contention.  This game means so much for the Storm.

Penrith once again face a side coming off a big win.  Last week they faced the Cowboys coming off a thrashing of Wests Tigers and just appeared flat with Thurston and Scott not quite at their destructive best.  Melbourne posted a similar type of victory over Cronulla and their challenge will be to not fall into the Cowboys trap and play below par.  So Penrith’s challenge is to target the big three and lessen their impact on the game early.  They did this to some type of effect the last time these two teams met at SportingBet Stadium and Penrith ended up coming home with the two points.

Looking at the Storm side and there’s some good strike power out wide.  They had a good mid-season pick up with Marika Koroibete from Wests Tigers, Mahe Fonua scored a double last weekend and Sisa Waqa has been consistent since signing with the Storm in 2011.  Waqa having scored seventeen tries, just two behind current leading tryscorer Semi Radradra.  There’s no doubt they will put pressure on the Panthers defense out wide.  This is where Dean Whare and Jamie Soward will need to work hard to keep the Storm at bay.  Quite possibly they may target Soward so that he’s too tired to have an impact in attack after he scored two, and set up two others last weekend.  Ryan Hoffman, Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor along with Cameron Smith make up a pretty good pack that will test Penrith.  If they are to win I expect it to be a grinding win and one which needs to be disciplined both with the pill and not giving away penalties.

For Penrith to win this game again they will rely heavily on Matt Moylan and Jamie Soward to provide direction in attack.  It will need to be on the back of a forward pack going forward.  And the forward pack continues to be impressive and even though James Segeyaro will miss the game, the depth of Penrith’s inform VB NSW Cup side allows veteran Kevin Kingston an opportunity to step up.  Penrith might lose a little flair out of dummy half in attack, but they won’t lose anything defensively.  Adam Docker has been excellent over the last two weeks and warrior Nigel Plum continues to produce quality performances.  This could be a game for the bash brothers to put some of these Melbourne stars flat on their back and hurting after being tackled. Out wide the player to watch is Josh Mansour as he takes pressure off the forward pack with some good runs into the meat of the Storm defense.  Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be looking for a better performance last week after struggling at times in the wet and windy conditions.  What Penrith need to do better this week is not give the opposition complete ball control for any good period in the game.  Last week the Cowboys could only post six in the opening ten minutes where they controlled the ball.  This week you’d expect the Storm to be more brutal.

Statistically, Melbourne score just over twenty-two points a game compared to Penrith’s twenty-one.  In the last five game Melbourne average just under thirty-three points compared to Penrith’s eighteen.  Defensively the Storm concede just under twenty points a game on average over the season with Penrith just under eighteen.  In the last five Melbourne conceded only thirteen points compared to Penrith’s eighteen.  The stats over the past five weeks point to a Storm win, but seasonally Penrith on defense edge out the Storm.


This will be one tough encounter but Penrith will have extra motivation to do it for James Segeyaro after a tough week for the young PNG international.  Let’s hope Penrith can dominate and confirm a top four finish with victory.  In another nail biter, Penrith to win by seven.  Let’s hope we get more than 7,000 for this week’s game – come out and support the boys in a game that could see us get two chances at finals time.

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