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NRL Match Preview: Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles

Squads

Sunday, Aug 31, Sea Eagles v Panthers, Brookvale Oval, 3pm

Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Tom Symonds, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Jesse Sene-Lefao, Justin Horo, James Hasson, Jason King

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

Lewis Brown set to play hooker

Ivan Cleary has been hoping for some good fortune on the injury front. Instead the injury curse continued with Kevin Kingston injuring his knee in what will end up his final game for the Penrith Panthers as he’s off contract at the end of this season.  Further to the injury toll is Jeremy Latimore’s failed attempt to beat a crusher tackle charge from Monday night’s game which has Panther fans seething when you consider Jason King beat a careless high tackle charge.  James Segeyaro is still in Papua New Guinea this weekend as he prepares to bury his father on Sunday.  Last week we have been talking about Lewis Brown playing at number nine mainly off the back of his efforts against North Queensland two weeks back.  This now looks certain to happen.  The other option is to promote Kierran Moseley from VB NSW Cup to play at hooker.  Moseley was excellent in Penrith’s successful Under 20’s Premiership team last year.  We’ll have some clue of who’s being called up as early as today with our VB NSW Cup side taking on Wentworthville at SportingBet Stadium.  Ivan Cleary made no changes to Penrith’s line-up when the side was announced on Tuesday.

Panthers injury update

The only good news here is that Dave Simmons should be back next week.  Brent Kite might be back for the second week of the finals but the rest have season ending injuries.  James Segeyaro should be back from personal leave next week.  Jeremy Latimore sits out two weeks through suspension.

KEVIN KINGSTON: Initial scans show a fracture to his lateral tibial plateau in his knee. He will have further scans today to determine the severity, and how long he will be sidelined

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.

http://www.penrithpanthers.com.au/team/injury-update.html

Jason King escapes punishment, set to play last game at Brookvale

As we alluded to with Lat’s suspension, Jason King has rolled the dice and come up trumps at the Judiciary mid-week.  We scratch our heads thinking how much more intentional can a high tackle get before a player is suspended?  This allows King to play his final game at Brookvale Oval from the bench as Geoff Toovey named the same seventeen that were overrun by Parramatta at Pirtek Stadium last round.  A win for Manly will see them take back the competition lead going into their final round match with North Queensland in Townsville.

Panthers looking for win eleven at Brookvale

This game will be the eighty-sixth time time Manly and Penrith have met.  Manly lead the head-to-head with fifty-four wins, Penrith twenty-nine and two draws.  Since 2008, Manly have won six and Penrith four.  The last two meetings between these teams have been won by the Panthers.  On May 27 2012 the Panthers won at home 22-4 with Lachlan Coote, Geoff Daniela, Luke Lewis and Brad Tighe the tryscorers.  Dean Whare scored Manly’s only try.  Last year at Brookvale Manly surrendered a sixteen point lead in their final round clash to hand Penrith a 38-26 victory.  It was Penrith’s tenth win at Brookvale in forty-one attempts.

Preview

Penrith will need to vastly improve on their efforts against Melbourne where they were dominated at the ruck and in the forward battle.  The Storm were also quick off their line putting the Panthers under pressure and it showed with some fundamental mistakes by Sam McKendry, Adam Docker and Josh Mansour.   I would think Ivan Cleary would like to see improvement at the ruck especially in trying to slow down the play the ball.  This is something that Manly have mastered over the years and managed to be one of the most disciplined sides in the competition.  Cleary will also stress to his players that they need to improve the speed at the play the ball.  Quick play the balls against the Cowboys went a long way to winning that game and this may have been a result of James Segeyaro’s excellent form where he was getting the Panthers on the front foot.

It’s stating the obvious but Soward and Matt Moylan are the play makers who need to have the forwards doing their job to feed the ball out wide to the likes of Josh Mansour and Jamal Idris to provide the attack.  Someone in the forward pack needs to take charge and it will come down to Sam McKendry, Adam Docker and Nigel Plum to provide the punch that’s needed to stand up to the Sea Eagles.

I expect Manly to copy the Melbourne formula for this game.  Strangle the Panthers in attack, make Jamie Soward become tired in defending to lessen his impact on the game.  Frustrate the Panthers and they will make unforced errors.  Create opportunities through Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans off the back of good metres from Anthony Watmough, Brenton Lawrence and Josh Starling.  The Sea Eagles have a whole host of danger men out in the back line led by captain Jamie Lyon and their club’s leading tryscorer Pita Hiku.  Jorge Taufua and Brett Stewart will also come into their own if Manly are allowed to dominate the game.

Manly’s 2014 Brookvale Oval record is impressive with eight wins from nine games.  Their only loss coming in round 1 to Melbourne 22-23.  They concede less than thirteen points a game at Brookvale this year, and score on average twenty-eight points.

Penrith’s record on the road is six wins from eleven matches.  They are looking for three consecutive away wins when they travel to the northern beaches.  On the road Penrith score on average twenty-two points and concede nineteen points.  All things considered this is a positive result when North Queensland has only won three games on the road in their twelve attempts.

Prediction

Penrith’s task made more difficult as their player roster is decimated through injury, personal leave and suspension.  You would expect Manly to win with Penrith putting up a good effort.  If Penrith manage to win it could be a defining moment in Ivan Cleary’s coaching career and give the club confidence leading into the finals series.  Panther fans are praying that Sydney Roosters can topple the Melbourne Storm this weekend so a top four spot looks more likely even if the club goes down this weekend.

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