NRL Preview
Penrith Panthers v Gold Coast Titans
Saturday, July 22, 3pm (AEST) at Pepper Stadium, Penrith

The Panthers find themselves just one win outside the Top 8 after their win over the Warriors in New Zealand last week. Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary produced a masterclass in the absence of halves partner Matt Moylan, scoring three tries, kicking five goals and setting up two tries. Matt Moylan and Peter Wallace make their returns this week, while the Panthers have been dealt a massive blow with the loss of lock Trent Merrin for an extended period. The Titans took down the defending premiers in torrential conditions on the Gold Coast last week and will be hoping that effort doesn’t lead to a flat performance here. The Titans are still a mathematical chance of making the finals, but a loss here will almost bring down the curtain on their season.

The Panthers have won five of the last seven clashes against the Titans, though the Titans have won two of the last three matches. The Titans won last year’s clash at Penrith 28-24.

Penrith have won six of their last eight and have ascended to ninth on the ladder with an 8-9 record. The Panthers have scored at least 24 in five of their last eight games. Penrith are just 3-3 at Pepper Stadium in 2017. Gold Coast have won three on end after losing four straight. The last three wins have all been by 12-plus with the 30-10 win over Cronulla one of their best victories this season. Gold Coast are up to 12th on the ladder with a 7-10 record.

Key Matchup
Nathan Cleary v Ashley Taylor: Cleary was sensational in last week’s win over the Panthers. He scored three tries, kicked 5 goals and set up another two tries in his man of the match performance. Cleary’s name will be come up at the selection table when the NSW side is picked next year and it’s only a matter of time before he wears the sky blue jersey. Meanwhile, Ashley Taylor is another young Origin player in the making, but could face stiffer competition than Cleary with the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Corey Norman and Ben Hunt still in the mix. Taylor has 23 try-assists for the season, adding another two to his tally in the win over the Sharks last week. He also crossed for a double in the upset win over the defending premiers. The future Origin halves could be on show at the foot of the Mountains and The Wolf can’t wait!

Stats That Matter
– Penrith are 7-10 ATS with a 9-8 under record while Gold Coast are 9-8 ATS with a 12-5 over record.

– The Titans have won two of the last three meetings against the Panthers.

– Eight of the last 10 meetings have hit 38 points or more.

– Penrith are 22-16 under at home since 2014.

– The Panthers are 5-9 ATS as a favourite of less than a converted try at home.

– The Titans are 25-13 ATS interstate since 2014 with four covers in their last five.

– The over is 17-10 when the Titans are interstate outsiders of more than a try.

– The Titans are 8-1 over as an interstate outsider off scoring 24.

– Gold Coast are 7-3 ATS as an interstate outsider off a win.

– Penrith have covered just 2 of their last 7 day games.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf thinks that the Panthers will get the valuable two competition points, but from a betting angle is taking the Titans with 5.5 start. The loss of Merrin hurts and the Titans are a great cover team.

How It’s Shaping Up
Penrith by 2

Best Bet
Gold Coast +5.5 ($1.91)

Other Recommended Bets
Over 44.5 ($1.88)

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