Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs Saturday, March 17, 5:30pm (AEDT) Panthers Stadium, Penrith
The Wolf would have loved to be a fly on the wall of the Panthers dressing room at half-time in their clash against the Eels. Whatever Panthers coach, Anthony Griffin said worked as the Panthers came from 14-0 down to defeat the Eels 24-14. Penrith also has the advantage of playing a consecutive match at home, while Souths have had to travel back from Perth after their Round 1 loss to the Warriors. The Panthers have named both Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Viliame Kikau to start, despite both players having a massive impact off the bench last week. The Rabbitohs have been dealt a massive blow in the lead-up to this clash, with Adam Reynolds on the sidelines with a knee injury. Adam Doueihi replaces Reynolds, while Cameron Murray moves to lock, with Sam Burgess pushing up into the front row.
FormPenrith were slow out of the blocks and trailed western Sydney rivals Parramatta 14-0 before clicking into gear to down the Eels 24-14 as a 1.5-point home underdog. The clash fell just under the 40.5-point total. South Sydney were major disappointments in the season opener when losing 32-20 to the Warriors where they were beaten for enthusiasm and execution across the park. The Rabbitohs were 6.5-point favourites while the game went well over the total.
Key MatchupJames Maloney v Cody Walker: Maloney might have the experience on the board, but young gun half Nathan Cleary is the organiser of this Panthers side. Maloney is a turnstile in defence, missing six tackles against the Eels, and didn’t run the ball often enough to justify his hefty price tag. He needs to take the pressure off Cleary and do more with the ball in hand or set up his outside men. Cody Walker scored two tries in the Round 1 loss to the Warriors, but might not be able to focus on his natural running game, with Reynolds sidelined. He could take on a more organisational role to help Doueihi settle in, which makes him less effective in The Wolf’s opinion. Run, Walker, Run!
Stats That Matter– South Sydney hold a 45-34-1 all-time edge over Penrith with Souths having won 7 of the last 9 meetings dating back to 2012. – The Panthers have won two of the last three against Souths at Penrith Stadium though. – The last three clashes and six of the last eight have all topped 41 points. – Penrith are 19-14 ATS at home since 2015 while they are 9-4 ATS at home when favoured by a converted try or more. – The Panthers are 8-3 ATS with an 8-3 under record after conceding 14 points or fewer. – Souths have won just 14 of their last 40 away from ANZ with an 18-22 ATS cover record. – Souths have covered just 1 of their last 5 after scoring 20 and losing.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf is expecting a tough evening for the Rabbitohs in Penrith. They have to back-up from a trip to Perth and are missing Adam Reynolds, although this is something they’ve been accustomed to over the years. The Panthers won’t be slow out of the blocks like they were against the Eels and should be able to string together an 80-minute performance. Panthers to cover and the overs.
How It’s Shaping UpPenrith by 12
Recommended BetsBest: Penrith -8 ($1.91) Value: Penrith -8 & Over 42.5 ($3.40) First Tryscorer: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak ($11)