Can Penrith get back to their winning ways after dropping a vital game last week?
The Panthers were slowly building a formidable record and erasing their terrible start to the season but last week they let one slip out of the bag when the Cowboys stunned them with a late try.
That defeat broke a four-game winning streak so Anthony Griffin’s men will be keen to reignite their charge towards the finals as they are currently two wins out of the top eight thanks to Parramatta’s win against the Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Souths aren’t totally out of the finals equation either but they really can’t afford to drop many more games. They go into this game fresh off the bye and prior to that they easily handled the Titans.
This game really shapes up as a four-point game as Souths are sitting just two points behind the Panthers on the ladder.
THE DEFENCE RESTS
SOUTHS’ biggest problem this year has been their defence.
Michael Maguire’s side has leaked an average of 18.5 points in their past four games and it’s no surprise that they have only won of those matches. Even in that match against the Gold Coast, they conceded 20 points but scored 36 – you cannot continue to play like that and expect to play make the top eight.
Overall they are conceding 22.3ppg so if they are any chance of beating Penrith here, who can put a score on teams, they must tighten up.
A big plus there is getting inspirational forward Sam Burgess back into the side while Aaron Gray slots into the centres in one of several changes that Maguire has made to the line-up that beat the Gold Coast a fortnight ago.
A GAME OF HALVES
PENRITH are yet to put together a game of 80 minute football.
That has been the biggest problem with the Panthers and their premiership push in 2017 because they either give away huge starts or don’t go on with the job in the second half.
Against the Cowboys they led at half-time which has been somewhat of a rarity for them this season but they didn’t put the game to bed in the second 40, allowing the home side to snatch the result at the death.
Winning games in the latter stages has been one of the trademarks of Penrith this season but eventually that sort of football catches up with you. They must start strong against the Rabbitohs if they want the two competition points because they are playing a side that is going to be equally as desperate as they are.
The Rabbitohs have enjoyed playing the Mountain Men in recent years with six wins in the past eight matches against them.
What will give them a bit more confidence is the fact they have knocked off Penrith in six straight matches at ANZ Stadium!
The majority of those games have been close so if you want a bit of value closing out the weekend then consider Souths 1-12 Winning Margin ($3.80 @ Palmerbet).
We are leaning the way of the Panthers ($1.68 @ Unibet) here but it must said it isn’t with a great deal of confidence.
Their record at ANZ Stadium is a big concern because prior to their big win over the Bulldogs several weeks ago (38-0) they had lost five in a row at the venue.
When you factor that in on top of their poor record against the bunnies of late it definitely doesn’t make a strong case to back them, however, we are going off what we have seen of them over the past month or so.
Souths are a shadow of their former selves and have battled throughout the season. We don’t think they will have what it takes to hold off a motivated Penrith side who should all but kill off the finals hopes of the home side with a win.
PANTHERS 1-12 WINNING MARGIN