Round 3, 2014 NRL Premiership
Saturday 22nd March
Venue: Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith
Refs: Ben Cummins & Gavin Reynolds
The Panthers will be looking to make it two wins from two home games tomorrow when they take on the Bulldogs at Sportingbet Stadium. After last weekend’s agonising 1 point loss to the Storm, Ivan Cleary’s men are more determined than ever to get their second win of the season in front of a home crowd.
Penrith has named a near unchanged side, with Dave Simmons the only omission due to injury. Jamie Soward returns after recovering from back spasms, Jamal Idris had a blinder of a debut and will start in the centres with Dean Whare, while Kevin Naiqama and Josh Mansour will round out the wings.
Last Saturday’s game in Melbourne was a nail-biter from the get-go. Penrith came out firing and absolutely drilled the Storm until the final siren, and they were unlucky not to come away with a win. Kevin Naiqama was outstanding on the wing, outclassing the local side on three occasions to score tries, although only two of them were awarded. Matt Moylan was impressive at fullback as well, and has cemented himself as a certain starter.
The Bulldogs have had a mixed start to their season, losing their first match to Brisbane, before bouncing back with an impressive 42-4 win over Cronulla on Monday. Halfback Trent Hodgkinson scored 18 points in the man-of-the-match performance, and his team mates put on a near flawless show. Stats show the Dogs completed 84% of their sets and only missed 6 tackles in the entire game.
They have also announced the re-signings of Josh Morris and James Graham this week, which will no doubt add to their confidence.
On the field, the Bulldogs may be a slightly bigger team physically, thanks to man-mountains Frank Pritchard and Tony Williams, but the Panthers have the speed and the smarts to run rings around them if given the chance. Elijah Taylor and Lewis Brown have some very fancy footwork up their sleeve, and they’re a hard-working pair who can create unexpected plays out wide.
Our wingers are quick and can out-pace the best of them, and Nigel Plum, Adam Docker and Sam Mckendry won’t let much get passed them.
The balance between youth and experience has been working well for Coach Ivan Cleary so far, and he’ll be sticking with that game plan.
7.Peter WALLACE (C)
9.Kevin KINGSTON (C)
INTERCHANGE: 14. James SEGEYARO, 15. Jeremy LATIMORE, 16. Tyrone PEACHEY, 17. Tim GRANT