Tonight's clash against St George Illawarra Dragons could well be decided by the back-row battle. The Panthers Bryce Cartwright, Tyrone Peachey and Elijah Taylor face Joel Thompson, Tyson Frizell and future Panther, Trent Merrin in what is an intriguing battle between each sides’ back row line.
Cartwright, Peachey and Taylor make up a skilful back-row in attack for Penrith, whilst being full of grit and determination in defence. It was Peachey who did all the damage for his side against the Warriors last Saturday evening, crossing for a try and running for over 200 metres, while Bryce Cartwright has taken the league by storm this season with his signature offloads and ball running skills. Captain Elijah Taylor will once again lead from the front with his energy and hustle in defence.
The Dragons have named Thompson, Frizell and future Panther, Trent Merrin, in a back-row known for their size and strength. Frizell was tipped as a possible NSW Origin player this season with coach Laurie Daley including him in the training squad alongside Merrin, who played all three games for the Blues. Former Raider, Thompson, represented Country Origin during this year’s representative period and has played in the NRL’s All Star match for the Indigenous team on four occasions.
Statistically, the Penrith backrow has the upper hand coming in to the match. Cartwright, Taylor and Peachey have combined for 9 tries this season, compared to the Dragons’ total of 7. Unsurprisingly, the Dragons have run for over 6000 metres compared to Penrith’s 5200m largely thanks to Merrin’s contributions, however Penrith lead the count for line breaks by 13 to 9, nearly 1800 tackles to the Dragon’s 1644 and a whopping 71 offloads to 22 – 50 coming from Cartwright alone.