Talk about a toss of the coin job!
Penrith have to turn their form around at some point and they may have found the perfect opponent to do it against here against the visiting New Zealand Warriors.
The Panthers are 2-7 through nine rounds and are sitting second last on the ladder. They greet the Warriors off the back of five straight losses with their latest effort being a 32-18 loss to the Broncos in Brisbane.
New Zealand will actually fancy their chances coming into this game having knocked off the Roosters by a point in their round 9 fixture.
Penrith were blown off the park against Brisbane a fortnight ago and trailed 28-nil late in the game.
A three-try frenzy within seven minutes added respectability to score, however, the effort was typical of what the Panthers have produced for most of the season.
Riding a five-game losing streak, Penrith’s fall from grace as one of the pre-season comp favourites to cellar dwellers is highlighted by the fact three of those losses have been by 13 points or more.
Boasting one of the most exciting attacks on paper, this hasn’t translated to points with the team ranked 11th in the competition for points score (156) while their defence has conceded 20.5ppg.
There is no doubt in the world that Kieran Foran’s presence has improved the New Zealand Warriors.
This was never more evident than when they held their nerve after giving away the lead against the Roosters in Round 9, landing a late penalty to give them a well-deserved two points.
That win broke a two-game losing run against the Raiders and Melbourne but the Warriors showed plenty in those games to indicate they are definitely a top eight side if they put it all together.
Foran’s importance to the side cannot be underestimated which is why many Kiwis will be disappointed that he is leaving at the end of the season to join Canterbury on a three-year deal.
PENRITH has had the wood on the Warriors since 2012.
The Mountain Men have won six of the past eight encounters but the last time they met, back in Round 21 last year at Mt Smart Stadium, saw Shaun Johnson inspire the Warriors to a 20-16 win.
In each of the past seven encounters the winning side has scored at least 20 points so that could be worth a few sneaky dollars depending on who you think will win here.
We think the bookies have got this one wrong by installing New Zealand as outsiders ($2.20 @ Topbetta).
They have definitely shown us more in the past month than the Panthers have so off the back of that we are recommending the Warriors to win this game. Naturally, we aren’t ready to declare the enigmatic side as ‘specials’ just yet and although they have a number of players backing up from Rep Round, so do the Panthers.
The likes of Foran, Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Isaac Luke should be too strong for a Panthers outfit that is struggling for confidence and form. One of the big things that has worked against them in 2017 has been their poor handling which ranks them last in the NRL in that category and that spells danger considering the Warriors are one of the best!
There is just too much going against Penrith even though the Warriors are just one of two teams (Newcastle being the other) that are yet to win away from home this season.
NEW ZEALAND TO SCORE FIRST – Penrith have been held tryless in the first half of their past three games