Can the Panthers continue the rage against the fading Cowboys?
Penrith are one of the hottest teams in the competition at the moment and have racked up nine wins from their past 11 games. Ordinarily that would have them competing for a spot in the top four but after a disastrous start to the season, they are only now just inside the top eight.
They can’t afford to slacken off though as there are four games remaining and every win will be vital for their chances of playing finals footy.
Penrith come into this game after beating the Tigers 28-14 while North Queensland, who have done a great job despite a stack of injuries this season, are now on a downward slid having dropped a home game to the Storm 26-8.
HOME GROUND ADVANTAGE
PENRITH has made the most of their big stretch of home games recently.
This will be the fourth successive game they have played at Pepper Stadium and fifth since Round 18. The Panthers have won five straight at home and are benefiting from playing in familiar surroundings.
Their five straight wins started with ‘that game’ against the Warriors back in Round 10 and has continued with successes over Manly, Gold Coast, Canterbury and the Wests Tigers.
Their past four wins at the ground, which have been since Round 18, have seen them plug the leaks in their defence with an average of just 11.5ppg.
FEELING THE PINCH
NORTH QUEENSLAND has played pretty good considering they have been without Matt Scott for the season and Johnathan Thurston for the second half of 2017.
Paul Green’s men have 28 points and you would think that another win at the very least will be enough for them to squeeze into the eight. To make certain of it they need two wins but that is where the problem is.
After the Panthers match they still have to face Cronulla, Wests Tigers and Brisbane and you could only say their match against the Tigers is the only one they would likely start favourites in.
There is no doubt the Cowboys will battle but are now facing a lack of class to get the job done in these vital games down the stretch.
NORTH QUEENSLAND has completely owned Penrith since 2011.
The Cowboys have won three straight and seven of the past eight encounters between the sides including their Round 16 clash at 1300Smiles Stadium. On that occasion, North Queensland had to come from behind and scored the match-winning try in the dying stages to seal a 14-12 result.
Although not known for their prowess when it comes to travelling, the Queenslanders have won three of the past four at Pepper Stadium.
Punters are faced with two sides on opposite ends of the momentum scale.
Penrith are on the way up and continue to improve on a weekly basis while we get the impression that the Cowboys may have peaked this season and are now on the way down.
Off the back of that we are willing to take the price about the Panthers ($1.50 @ bet365).
It seems as though everything is falling into place for Penrith and key injuries to Cowboys players Antonio Winterstein and Gavin Cooper will have the visitors seriously stretched.