It’s been a quick four day turnaround for the boys as they head up the F3 for our match against Newcastle on Saturday.
We’ve been dealt a blow this afternoon with Chicko ruled out of tomorrow’s game. I don’t think we’ll suffer too much with his absence as the talented South Sydney Grand final winning hooker Apisai Koroisau to replace him. It’s a great chance for the twenty-two year old to impress Ivan Cleary in his first appearance for the club. Segeyaro’s withdrawal late in the week is the only change to the seventeen that went down in a brutal physical encounter 20-12 to the Sydney Roosters on Monday night.
One player I hope has a wonderful game is DWZ. So unlucky last week to be given no try. I hope this fires him up and he grabs a couple of tries. Sauce will be better for his first hit out of the season and will play an important role in taking pressure off the forward pack who will still be sore after Monday’s efforts. Isaac John hopefully will have more space to be effective after struggling first game back in the top grade for a while.
Newcastle are definitely a threat this weekend. They escaped in the final minutes against Gold Coast last weekend and remain with South Sydney as the only sides to remain undefeated in 2015. Their win against North Queensland was a big scalp considering their poor record playing in Queensland lately. Rick Stone’s men are missing Korbin Sims through suspension. His replacement David Fa’alogo. Sione Mata’utia is the eighteenth man for the Knights. They boast a strong forward back featuring Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden, with Chris Houston coming off the bench. Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts are well a well established halves pairing. A back line headed by Dane Gagai and Joseph Leilua will be keen to expose the Panthers compact defensive structure. The Knights can’t be estimated. They went through a year of hell with Alex McKinnon and now they’ve emerged as a competitive and genuine top eight contender.
So where do Penrith win? I think if the Panthers can play the front runner, I don’t think they will be so clumsy as the Titans or Cowboys and let the Knights back into the contest. It could be through the middle where the Panthers win where someone like Bryce Cartwright or Jeremy Latimore can effectively get the ball away and create second-phase play for the likes of Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour. The $64,000 question is can Newcastle be at their best if the Panthers get up in their faces?
Penrith won both games last year. A double to Mansour set up 30-8 victory in round 1 last year and Dave Simmons did the same in winning 32-10 at Newcastle.