Penrith Panthers v St George Illawarra Saturday, May 26, 7.30pm Penrith Stadium, Sydney
The top-of-the-table clash between Penrith and St George Illawarra hasn’t received nearly the hype it has deserved with two quality teams set to duke it out in the most compelling game of Round 12.
Recent Form Penrith are second on the ladder with an 8-3 record. The Panthers rank second in defence while they rate fourth in scoring. Penrith have won their last two and six of their last eight. Penrith have conceded more than 18 points just three times this season. St George Illawarra lead the premiership with a 9-2 record. They have the top attack and top defence. The Dragons have scored 24 or more in six of their last nine.
Key MatchupNathan Cleary v Ben Hunt. The likely State of Origin halfback matchup comes a fortnight early when Cleary’s Panthers host Hunt’s Dragons. Cleary looked the goods in his return from a knee injury against the Tigers while Hunt started the season with a bang with eight try assists in his first six games but with just one in his last five he will be desperate to rediscover his attacking potency.
Stats That Matter – Penrith are 7-4 ATS with a 6-5 over number, covering 6 of their last 8. – St George Illawarra are 7-4 ATS with a 7-4 under number. – St George Illawarra have long had the best of Penrith with four straight wins and 11 wins in the last 17 encounters. – The Panthers have won three of the last four meetings at Penrith. – Eight of the last nine matches have failed to break 35 points. Penrith are 26-17 ATS at home since 2015 with covers in 11 of their last 14. – They are 6-3 ATS since 2015 at home after keeping an opponent to 10 points or fewer while they are 5-2 ATS off a win of 13 or more. – The Panthers have covered 14 of their last 19 night games at home. – Penrith are 7-3 ATS as a home underdog. – The Dragons have covered just 6 of their last 16 away from their suburban home grounds while as a favourite they are 6-13 ATS with a 12-7 under record. – The Saints are 37-17 under away from their suburban home grounds with a 19-6 under record at night. – The Dragons are 12-5 under away from their suburban homes after scoring 25 or more points.
Final Thoughts The best game of the week is also the best betting match of the round with Penrith and the under both able to be backed with confidence. The Panthers have been near perfect in recent times at home, particularly at night and as a home underdog. The Saints are poor away favourites. The under is a major angle when the Dragons are on the road, particularly at night, and these teams have a long history of low scoring affairs.
How It’s ShapingPenrith by 6
Best: Under 37.5 points ($1.90) Value: Penrith WIN ($2.15) First Tryscorer: Tyrone Peachey ($13.00)