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#VBNSWCup Rd 1 preview – Panthers vs Bulldogs

ROUND 1 v Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs @ Pepper Stadium, Sunday 8th Mar @ 1:45PM

Defending NSW Cup champions, the Penrith Panthers square off against traditional foes, the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in Round 1 action as part of a 3 grade bonanza of footy to be played at the newly named Pepper Stadium this Sunday afternoon at 1:45pm.

Both teams come into 2015 with vastly different expectations – Penrith will be looking to win back-to-back titles despite seeing a plethora of players leave the club including Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Kierran Moseley, Kevin and Wes Naiqama, Ryan Simpkins, Eto Nabuli, Tom Humble, Luke Capewell, Anthony Cherrington and Vaipuna Tia Kilifi. In their place comes Apisai Koroisau and Tupou Sopoaga who both should see their share of NRL action with the Panthers in 2015 while Rodney Coates, Adrian Davis and Nu’u Akerpia will also add some depth to what should be a young but talented squad at coach Garth Brennan’s disposal in 2015.

Canterbury on the other hand will need to overcome the loss of likes of Krisnan Inu, Reni Maitua, Lachlan Burr, Drury Low and Harlan Alaalatoa, if they want to improve on their lowly 2014 table position but there’s little doubt Curtis Rona, Jacob Loko and Antonio Kaufusi will prove to be more than handy replacements as they push their claims for inclusion in the Bulldogs NRL squad.

Penrith come into Round 1 with their share of injury issues with Nathan Smith, Tom Eisenhuth, Daniel Foster and Brendan Attwood unavailable. Nonetheless the Panthers have selected five of last year’s premiership winning side for this game and the announced team contains 6 players having played 171 NRL games under their belt experience. Adam Docker, Waqa Blake and Sam Anderson will all make their first appearance for 2015 while 2 players – Christian Chrichton and James Fisher-Harris will make their NSW Cup debuts. Adrian Davis, Tupou Sopoaga, Rodney Coates and Nu’u Akerpia will make their club debuts.

The full squad is as follows:

  1. KIERAN MOSS 2. CHRISTIAN CRICHTON 3. WILL SMITH 4. WAQA BLAKE 5. ROBERT JENNINGS
  2. ISAAC JOHN 7. ADRIAN DAVIS 8. ANDY SAUNDERS 9. LIAM AYOUB 10. BEN MURDOCH-MASILA
  3. TUPOU SOPOAGA 12. JAMES FISHER-HARRIS 13. ADAM DOCKER

INTERCHANGE:

  1. SAM ANDERSON 15. RODNEY COATES 16. LEILANI LATU 17. NU’U AKERIPA 19. CHRIS SMITH (1 to be omitted)

COACH: GARTH BRENNAN

Canterbury are relatively injury-free and will be anything but pushovers having also named an experienced side with 7 of their squad having 285 games in the NRL including Antonio Kaufusi and Jason Schirnack making their club debuts, complementing the likes of Chase Stanley, Moses Mbye, Corey Thompson, Damien Cook and Lloyd Perrett Jnr.

The full squad is as follows:

1 COREY THOMPSON 2 TYRONE PHILLIPS 3 LEVI DODD 4 CHASE STANLEY 5 JARROD MCINALLY

6 MATT FRAWLEY 7 MOSES MBYE 8 ANTONIO KAUFUSI 9 DAMIEN COOK 10 DANNY FUALALO

11 SHAUN LANE 12 ADAM ELLIOTT 13 LLOYD PERRETT

INTERCHANGE:

14 JALINE GRAHAM 15 MAKAHESI MAKATOA 16 DAVID MINUTE 17 HERMAN ESE’ESE

19 JASON SCHIRNACK 20 LINDON MCGRADY (Two to be omitted)

COACH: ANDREW PATMORE

In 2014, Penrith won both games albeit they were relatively close affairs against the Bulldogs and with no love lost between these two sides expect things to heat up on the field once again on what should be a warm afternoon at Pepper Stadium. Some absorbing head to head clashes to look forward to include Moss v Thompson, Blake v C Stanley and Saunders v A Kaufusi.

Given the expected warm humid conditions expect plenty of errors from both sides but Penrith’s class should see them prevail and get the title defence underway with a win by 8 points.

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