Battle for Penrith
The Battle for Penrith
Panthers v Rabbits – Friday night @ Penrith
- Panthers are unbeaten in 3 matches there in2014 conceding only 30 points @ 10 per match whilst scoring 60 @ 20.
- Souths have won both matches where they have score more than 25 points and conceded less than 9.
There is a significant contrast between clubs in style and make-up. Panthers are rebuilding with very few “star” players embracing a gritty style of play; competing hard with small mobile back-rowers, experienced but contrasting halves, variety of massive, small, experience and rookie outside backs.
THAT PANTHERS PACK.
The Panthers front rowers are amongst the highest paid in the NRL now that Grant and McKendry have regained their places in the starting line-up.
They probably won’t win the game there but they may save it, with Plum, Latimore and Docker all “starch” men in there working hard too.
Can these forwards measure up in defence?
Too small might be the case if Souths MoNsTeRS get into top gear as was the case with Dragons pack last weekend.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR DIFFERENCES
The differences confronting Souths are that this Panthers D line will be coming to meet them unlike the Dragons. In fact, they may be out of the line and hitting them hard and often, up under the ribcage and knocking knees together like your favourite old player from the 70s might have been doing! Old school tackling.
I am predicting a horrible night for Souths #8 Dave Tyrell who last stepped off a straight line in Harold Matts footy. Docker and Manu and Taylor will use him for target practice!
WHERE TO LOOK FOR DIFFERENCES – Panthers
What the Panthers will face is an upgraded and assorted V12 version of the other packs they have met this season.
Rd 1 Knights: Big and tough but slow, low on explosive power. They forgot to use their backs that day and lost Boyd and Gidley first half and Roberts in second.
Rd 2 Storm: beaten by a point but Storm forwards are either warming up and not as good as they used to be. Also they are very different to Rabbits; in D they catch and hold and dance with ball carriers much more.
Rd 3 Dogs: were warming up after a sluggish start. Panthers ground out a 2 point win.
Rd 4 Parramatta: this was an indication of how Panthers might have problems as the young Eels took Penrith apart with power running and quality passing to hit the edges.
Rd 5 Raiders: in very difficult conditions against a BiG forward pack Panthers ground out a tremendous 3 tries to 1 victory. Raiders are big but like Knights not a lot of power runners without Papalii that day.
So in Round 6 Souths will do some of that Melbourne style defence – catch and hold and dance; take him down slow to give multiple defenders time to get back into that strong D line. But at times they will be out there smashing bodies at speed. They have way more BiG DuDeS coming at you more often.
In attack that size is supplemented with speed – Sutton, Te’o, Burgess S and G all have footwork to add to that also.
Put them all together and that’s a handful. Combine it all with great body positions and it becomes a hurdy gurdy of power running, down and up and ball already played in preparation for the next repeat of power running as the Saints players found themselves on continually at SCG.
WHAT HURDLES CAN THEY HIT – Panthers
Getting a good start with extra emphasis on great kicking and equally good chasing relentlessly is a must for Panthers. Homework will have told them that raiders plan to ick into Souths left corner takes a little piece of the real scary challenge of meeting Inglis and winning the contact. Goodwin out of dummy half play 2 after Inglis is something you can set your clock on. Do this well and they might be able to wear those BiG red and green humans down.
Not getting these quality completions will spell BiG trouble for the home team. Notice this is not about merely holding onto the ball for completions but it is about having challenging little plays ($10 and $20 questions – neither $1 or $100 dollar questions will work) to ensure the defence is moving laterally as well as backwards so that Inglis can be isolated on kick returns and space and time is created for Soward and Wallace to kick with precision.
Strong kick returns with Inglis cracking the line or falling through the tackles will lead to quick ptb’s and we all know where that will end.
Panthers have other attacking threats that have available to break the rhythm of the Rabbits. Segayaro lights the place up when he subs in at dummy half but maybe other teams are learning how to negate that threat. That’s where those big dudes up front have to do the tough stuff and convert that into opportunities for the speedy dummy half.
The other variation Penrith have begun to dabble with is feeding the ball to their left to Idris angling back into the middle looking for lazy middle defenders who have clocked off or that dynamic bump and off load to linking support players down the middle third.
Soward and Wallace will be a under massive pressure on their kicking game a Souths love to dominate those defensive last plays. That will be real tussle between what the Panthers have done on earlier plays in the set and earlier sets in the match against how much energy the Rabbits have left on those plays to wreak havoc with that vital last play.
Can’t wait to see if Panthers can hold a top four place or Rabbits are back on track.