Despite finishing the game with the better stats, the Dragons couldn’t quite match it with the Roosters where it mattered the most last week, losing only their fourth match (30 – 22) under Coach Paul McGregor since he took over the reins in round 12.
Each of those losses has been against a top four side and include an 18 – 14 defeat at the hands of this weekend’s opponents back in 14 at Sportingbet Stadium, where only goal kicking separated the two.
The Dragons have the home-ground advantage this time around and have posted four wins from six matches at Win Stadium this year, with the two losses coming against Brisbane early in the year and more recently, the Storm.
Benji Marshall and Gareth WIddop have formed a good combination and McGregor’s decision to move Josh Duggan from fullback to centres, has see the Dragons attack improve considerably.
The Dragons have announced that they’ll take the field this week with the same squad as last week, which is now a settled side performing well.
After losses to the Roosters and then unexpectedly to the Sharks, punters were of the belief that the Panthers were headed for their third straight loss last week against the Bulldogs and started a long price to cause an upset.
But cause an upset they did, with some help from the Video Referee who disallowed three first half tries to the Bulldogs, winning 22 – 16.
The victory keeps the Panthers in the top four but came at a cost with Elijah Wood suffering a sea-son-ending injury, with Brent Kite and Bryce Cartwright also suffering injuries and missing this week’s clash.
The Panthers will field a make shift forward pack for this match with Isaah Yeo and Sam McKendry coming in and have also named a seven man bench.
The Panthers have surprised most this year and continue to produce the goods against the odds. Underestimating their chances has burned punters more often then not this season.
Whilst their forward pack may look different this week than normal, their back-line, which has pro-duced plenty of points this season, is a good one and the back three of Moylan, Simmons and Mansour have collectively crossed for 25 tries this season.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The Panthers have had the better of the Dragons in recent years, winning five of the last six matches between the two clubs.
Each of those matches have produced a relatively low total match score, with only one surpassing 35 points which makes the line for his match, set a 43.5, worth a closer look.
Penrith Fullback Matt Moylan has scored in two of his past three games against the Dragons and in his current form, could improve that strike rate again.
Dragons: Adam Quinlan, Brett Morris, Josh Dugan, Gerard Beale, Jason Nightingale, Gareth Widdop, Benji Marshall, Ben Creagh, Mitch Rein, Michael Cooper, Leeson Ah Mau, Joel Thompson, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Trent Merrin, Will Matthews, Jack Stockwell, Shane Pumipi, Dan Hunt
Ins: Bronson Harrison, Dan Hunt. Outs: None
Panthers: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, David Simmons, William Smith, Jamie Soward, Nigel Plum, James Segeyaro, Sam McKendry, Sika Manu, Isaah Yeo, Adam Docker. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Jeremy Latimore, Matt Robinson, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Sam Anderson, Ryan Simpkins
Ins: Isaah Yeo, Matt Robinson, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Sam Anderson, Ryan Simpkins. Outs: Brent Kite (pectoral, season), Elijah Taylor (ACL, season), Bryce Cartwright (ankle, indefinite)