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Hostplus NRL Preview: Round 3

John Shamon


The Panthers will be looking to build on an impressive return to form against Wests Tigers last weekend when they welcome cross-city rivals Sydney Roosters for the first game at Pepper Stadium in 2017.

Anthony Griffin has named the same side that hammered the Tigers 36-2, meaning young pair Viliame Kikau and Dylan Edwards retain their spots following impressive performances last Sunday where both got on the scoresheet.

Opposition coach Trent Robinson has been forced in to making two changes to the side that held on for a 28-24 victory against the Bulldogs, with Joseph Manu replacing Blake Ferguson (ribs) in the centres and Isaac Liu coming on to the interchange bench for Chris Smith as Kane Evans nurses a calf injury.


For the Panthers, it was a case of righting the wrongs of Round One when they faced the Tigers. Led by the diminutive Tyrone Peachey, the Panthers laid on six tries to nil to erase the memory of their horror performance in Kogarah a week earlier.

Peachey, along with Edwards, tormented the hosts all afternoon as they ran for 187 metres each, produced five line breaks between them and combined for Edwards’ try on the stroke of half time after Peachey sliced through the Tigers defence.

That effort was matched in defence as the Panthers batted away attack after attack on their own line as the Tigers flew out of the gates in front of their home fans. In the end, all they had to show for it was a penalty goal.

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This weekend’s opponents, the Roosters, enter the match unbeaten following victories over the Titans and Bulldogs.  

Led by a rejuvenated Mitchell Pearce and new-recruit Luke Keary, the Bondi-based outfit have emerged as an early front-runner for top honours come finals time. However, it is the industrious efforts of their big men that have helped the halves stamp their authority in both wins.

Front row pair Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa combined for over 300 metres and 60 tackles in their last-start victory, while 80 minute efforts from Boyd Cordner and Mitchell Aubusson resulted in a try for both backrowers.

Recent history between the two sides has seen the spoils shared at five wins apiece since 2012, but it was the Panthers that emerged victorious on both occasions the two sides met last season.

A tightly-contested affair at Allianz Stadium saw Penrith take the competition points back to the foot of the mountains following a 20-16 victory in Round 7, before a comprehensive 38-18 win at Pepper Stadium in Round 22 provided the platform to make a run in to the finals.

Nathan Cleary orchestrated his side on the night with maturity beyond his years as he crossed over for a try and set up two others, including a sensational linebreak and kick for Peachey to score in the corner.

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