Penrith return to Pepper Stadium for the first time in a month, eager to get their show back on the road again against fierce rivals, the Parramatta Eels.
Bolstered by a week off, returning stars and a last start win over Manly, the Panthers couldn’t be more opposite to the struggling Eels. Desperation makes the Eels dangerous and that should make it another classic instalment in the “Battle of the West”.
The Panthers have had a good last month, winning against the Sharks at home with a team that was decimated by injury they then got on the road to come within 50 seconds of beating the Broncos. Just last week Matt Moylan kicked a booming field goal to propel them to victory against the Sea-Eagles at Brookvale. They haven’t had the start to the season they wanted but close losses have skewed the ledger slightly and Penrith can be proud of their efforts.
With Wallace returning it promises for the Panthers a strong, duel footed kicking game that will help with field position and pressure. The Penrith faithful are yet to see Soward and Wallace combine for an extended period and hopefully this will be the start of something good. Moylan will be encouraged by his week in camp with the Blues and will fire as he always does, sparking something in attack with either his passing, running or short kicking game.
Mansour is underrated in coming back, often it easy to forget how much he adds but his block-busting runs out of trouble and finishing power on the wing is something invaluable to them. The Panthers need to play a simple, complete game here. Completing sets, handing the ball over deep in opposition territory and defence are priority. Parramatta will seize any opportunity in the red zone but deny them that opportunity and they just don’t have the players to create. Their forwards are big but young and inexperienced. It will be Segeyaro around the ruck as well as plenty of traffic at Sandow that will provide good opportunity for Penrith. Reece Robinson too is a hot and cold player that will be tested by Moylan as well as Soward with his bombs to the wing.
I expect Penrith to come out with a tough defensive game, muscle up and really control the football. It will be a clinical performance on Friday night. Time to get the show back on the road.