Panthers vs Mounties
Pepper Stadium, Penrith
With the minor premiership in the balance, the Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side returns to Pepper Stadium on Saturday to face top-of-the-table Mounties.
Following a disappointing loss to Illawarra Cutters last weekend, which saw them relegated to fourth on the table, the Panthers will be relieved to be back on home turf.
Coach Garth Brennan has stuck with a similar line-up that fell just short in Wollongong.
NYC star Corey Harawira-Naera is in line to make his NSW Cup debut after being named on the bench, while Andy Saunders returns at prop. Panthers rehab coordinator Shane Elford has also tipped Adam Docker to make his comeback from injury and could be a late inclusion pending a fitness test on Friday.
The last time these two teams met was in Round 8 on ANZAC Day. The Panthers were victorious 16-10, producing their most professional performance of the season on a day of wacky weather at St Marys Stadium. Penrith’s defence was outstanding, demonstrating the attitude and commitment Brennan expects from his side every week.
That same team spirit is going to be needed on Saturday. In recent weeks Mounties have hit their stride and earned themselves favouritism for the NSW Cup premiership. They have not tasted defeat in over a month and their outstanding points differential has them in pole position at the top of the table. Coming into the finals, a Panthers victory over the league leaders would give Penrith’s hopes a much-needed boost.
Against the Cutters, the Panthers second half display was proof that they have what it takes to take down big teams. The comeback they pulled off after the half-time break would have pleased Brennan, but what is going to impress the coach this week is a home win over the competition leaders.
PENRITH PANTHERS | 1. Kieran MOSS, 2. Eddie AIONO, 3. Brent NADEN, 4. Maliko FILINO, 5. Malakai WATENE-ZELEZNIAK, 6. Adrian DAVIS, 7. Sam SCARLETT, 8. Sam ANDERSON, 9. Sione KATOA, 10. Matt EISENHUTH, 11. Ben MURDOCH-MASILA, 12. Tupou SOPOAGA 13. Andy SAUNDERS
INTERCHANGE | 14. Brendan ATTWOOD, 15. Rodney COATES, 16. Oliver CLARK, 17. Corey HARAWIRA-NAERA, 18. Chris SMITH