This Sunday afternoon match at the foot of the Blue Mountains is sure to be a blockbuster. There is a significant amount of meaning for both sides with the Panthers eyeing the top four and the Dragons chasing a finals spot.
Penrith haven’t lost since the beginning of July, winning their last seven games in a row, with their most recent victory coming at the Raiders. That win was rated by coach Anthony Griffin as being amongst the best of their season.
They have sealed their finals place but still have a double chance to fight for. Another source of motivation for the Panthers is their first round result, where their opponents humiliated them 42-10 at UOW Jubilee Oval, a result they will no doubt be looking to atone for.
There is a multitude riding on this match for the Dragons and the equation is simple. Lose and their season, as well as the finals, will appear even more distant. Emerge victorious, and they will not only revive their season, but find themselves in the top eight.
St George may have found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard against the Broncos last week, however they certainly made them work hard for their victory. Unfortunately, it was a few lapses in concentration and the class of the Broncos which proved the difference.
2017 – Rd 1 St George Illawarra Dragons def. Penrith Panthers 42-10 at UOW Jubilee Oval
2016 – Rd 4 St George Illawarra Dragons def. Penrith Panthers 14-12 at WIN Stadium
2015 – Rd 24 St George Illawarra Dragons def. Penrith Panthers 19-12 at WIN Stadium
2014 – Rd 22 Penrith Panthers def. St George Illawarra Dragons 16-4 at WIN Stadium
2014 – Rd 14 Penrith Panthers def. St George Illawarra Dragons 18-14 at Pepper Stadium
The Dragons come into the game having won the last three meetings between the sides however all of these games came at home.
Their most recent victory at the foot of the mountains dates way back to 2009, which was during the Wayne Bennett era.
|PENRITH||ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA|
|Dylan Edwards||1||1||Matthew Dufty|
|Josh Mansour||2||2||Nene MacDonald|
|Tyrone Peachey||3||3||Josh Dugan|
|Waqa Blake||4||4||Tim Lafai|
|Dallin Watene-Zelezniak||5||5||Jason Nightingale|
|Tyrone May||6||6||Gareth Widdop|
|Nathan Cleary||7||7||Kurt Mann|
|James Tamou||8||8||Leeson Ah Mau|
|Peter Wallace||9||9||Cameron McInnes|
|Reagan Campbell-Gillard||10||10||Paul Vaughan|
|Corey Harawira-Naera||11||11||Tyson Frizell|
|Isaah Yeo||12||12||Joel Thompson|
|James Fisher-Harris||13||13||Jack de Belin|
|Sione Katoa||14||14||Tariq Sims|
|Bryce Cartwright||15||15||Hame Sele|
|Tim Browne||16||16||Blake Lawrie|
|Trent Merrin||17||17||Josh McCrone|
|Moses Leota||18||18||Taane Milne|
|Dean Whare||19||19||Kalifa Faifai Loa|
|Viliame Kikau||20||20||Luciano Leilua|
|Kaide Ellis||21||21||Will Matthews|
The Facts That Matter
The Panthers are rapidly becoming known as second-half specialists. They have conceded the third least amount of tries in the final 20 minutes of the match – only behind the Storm and the defending Premiers Cronulla. Penrith have backed their late defence up in attack too, scoring more than any other team in the final quarter of NRL games.
They also have a strong record at their home in the base of the mountains, losing only three matches this year. Those losses have been to the Rabbitohs, the Roosters and the Sharks.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Despite the Dragons being positioned outside the top eight, they have found themselves ranked reasonably high in the league statistics. Only the Broncos have made more metres, with the St George pack particularly strong.
The Dragons are regularly creating chances, with their offload game also strong, and will need to be clinical in taking them in this game.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, their record away from Wollongong and Kogarah is rather disappointing, having lost seven of 11 matches on the road.
The Dragons will throw everything at the Panthers however that still might not be enough. The form of Nathan Cleary and his team’s incredible ability in the final 20 minutes of the match to score points will be the difference. Panthers by 7.
Who will come out on top in this hugely important Sunday afternoon clash, the Panthers or the Dragons? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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