By Guest Writer Stephen Gallagher
Why yes, yes I have chosen the battle of the two bottom placed sides as the match of the round. Remember also it is Women In League round, so the Penrith Panthers will be donning a pink strip to support this.
GAME OF THE ROUND: ROUND 16 – Penrith Panthers V Parramatta Eels – Saturday, Centrebet Stadium 19.30 local time.
LAST WEEK: Penrith were thoroughly outplayed for 70 minutes, but with some late tries they managed to bring the score back to something a little more respectable against the Gold Coast Titans. Going down 36-18.
Parramatta were never in the match, and were handed another loss to their already horrific season. 24-6 to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
THIS WEEK: The Panthers side looks a bit better this week, as their side was injury depleted in the heavy loss they suffered on the Gold Coast. A side that does look capable of sitting a lot higher on the table compared to the 15th where they sit. At home their record is not so flash, but they have a lot to play for. No team wants to finish last, and if they can get up in this one they’ll be four points clear. If their backs can find the ball early with plenty of space it could be a very big scoreline.
Eels fans would be close to the brink of depression. Two years lingering around the bottom of the table would have me pulling my hair out. They look ever so promising each week, but it seems one thing lets them down and that leads to events spiralling downwards which seemingly they cannot get themselves out of. If footy was ranked on effort and not the ability to actually win games – you’d probably say that Parramatta would be reigning Premiers. However, they need to transfer this effort in to points.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Penrith need to outscore Parramatta. Simple as that. This Western Sydney derby will be high on fan’s priority list on the season’s calendar. There is no shortage of attacking flair in this team. Especially with the likes of Lachlan Coote and Origin representative Michael Jennings in the backline. No shortage of leaders up front either. A team that is really just one or two seasons short of being something great. I believe that there will be some good attacking plays on offer from them in this one.
Parramatta have a team that is just dying to click, and put plenty of points on someone. Could this be the week? It seems that they’re just slightly off in a few attacking aspects, and are let down in the finishing process. If they come out all guns blazing, what do they have to lose? A position in the top eight is not going to happen, so if there’s more razzle dazzle type footy going on would that work for them? Parramatta need to believe in themselves first, before they can go on and prove that they are better than last place.
THE BATTLE OF: The 2012 rookies. Josh Mansour for the Panthers has been nothing short of amazing in the five games he has registered for the club. Hugely impressive with the ball in hand, and can find the try line by busting out of tackles and getting some distance in his powerful, barnstorming runs. One of my favourite players I’ve seen this season emerging and could play his hand well in this clash.
Ken Sio is another exciting talent and a good finisher. This Eels winger has slotted in at fullback at times this season too. Showing his utility role in the backline, he will be a key part of this Eels side for years to come. I can see Sio getting across the line more than once in this encounter.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Tim Grant – Expect his game to have flourished from his Origin debut experience. He will be richer for it.
Matthew Ryan – Knows how to make a tackle or two. The Nathan Hindmarsh mould.
Expecting to see plenty of points on offer at the foot of the Blue Mountains. A crisp night weather wise, but the heat will come in the form of a points scoring flurry. 38-30 to the Panthers.
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