It’s incredible to think that the Penrith Panthers season has turned 360 degrees since the last time they headed to the Sunshine State. The side has remained unbeaten since their 18-32 loss to Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, April 27. Now they’re looking for their first win in the north since 2009 when they take on the Cowboys this Saturday at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
Here’s five reasons why they can make it five in a row.
PANTHERS OVERCOME SLOW STARTS
In the first half of this year’s premiership the Penrith Panthers struggled in the opening forty minutes. They were behind 18-0 against Parramatta only to go down by six points in round 8. A week later in Brisbane they trailed 28-0 after 52 minutes before losing 18-32. In their epic come-from-behind win against New Zealand Warriors their season was on the line at 28-6 before winning 36-28. In round 12 at McDonald Jones Stadium they trailed the bottom placed Knights 14-0 before running in five tries to win 30-20. The last two matches they’ve been in front at the break, giving them a good platform to go onto victory.
MATT MOYLAN’S SUCCESSFUL MOVE TO SIX
It was on the cards that Matt Moylan would move to five eighth, the move slightly delayed due to the success of Bryce Cartwright playing that role in the Panthers late season success in 2016. Coach Anthony Griffin’s decision to pick Moylan at five-eighth has paid dividends. In the past two games he’s scored twice, made three line breaks and set up three tries including the match-winner to Tyrone Peachey in Bathurst two weeks ago. Matt Moylan’s move is a reason why the Panthers are a premiership contender despite their poor start to the season.
RETURN OF SAUCE
After a lay-off after a devastating ACL injury, Josh Mansour has returned in the past fortnight to the side. Mansour always is one of the top Panthers in metres gained each week often taking the pressure off the forwards early in the set. This combined with his passion for the club makes him an influential player amongst the player group and a cult hero with the fans. Penrith have won 17 of the past 27 games when Mansour has played and he’s bagged 17 tries. His return has been more than welcome at the foot of the mountains.
COWBOYS TO SUFFER FROM ORIGIN
Wednesday night’s State of Origin game in Sydney will see four North Queensland Cowboys players turn out for the Queensland Maroons. Gavin Cooper, Michael Morgan and Coen Hess are likely to back-up for the Cowboys when the match kicks off this Saturday at 3pm. One player who may not make it on the field could be Johnathan Thurston despite the prospects of playing his 300th National Rugby League game. Paul Green may not want to risk the Queensland legend only having returned from injury in their win over Parramatta in round 14 in Darwin. With no Panthers in the run-on side, they will have a fresher set of legs for the encounter.
TOWNSVILLE NOT A COWBOYS ‘FORTRESS’ IN 2017
North Queensland Cowboys pride themselves on a solid home record. In 2016, the Cowboys only suffered one loss at home and that was to Grand Finalists Melbourne Storm 8-16 on July 30. This year they’ve had a loss to Manly, win against Souths, loss to the Tigers, win over the Knights, a loss to the Eels and a win against Queensland rivals Gold Coast Titans. Given the mixed results and a switched-on Panthers side, North Queensland may fall to their fourth loss at home.
This is a perfect opportunity for Penrith Panthers to take one of the biggest scalps in the National Rugby League. With these two teams in the NRL top 8, there will be plenty of betting interest on this game. You can check out the odds, latest market and bet on NRL with William Hill, UK’s top online bookmaker for the NRL Premiership market. It’s sure to be a great game this Saturday in Townsville.