NRL Round 12: Panthers v Sea Eagles Preview & Betting Tips

Penrith got a long overdue win last week – will they make it two in a row against Manly?

James Baxter
 | 
Tue, 28 May, 12:00 AM

Penrith Panthers v Manly Sea Eagles – Panthers Stadium – 7:50pm

Penrith’s 16-10 win against local rivals Parramatta was a drought-breaker, snapping their horror six-game losing run and giving coach Ivan Cleary’s side reason to smile for the first time in a very long time. The match wasn’t pretty to watch – errors were rampant from both sides to stifle sustained attack – but that meant nothing for the Panthers who needed the win at all costs.

Nathan Cleary has been the target for criticism in his club’s disappointing season start but the halfback ensured he retained his NSW position with an improved performance capped off by a game-winning try. Cleary seemed to embrace his responsibility as chief playmaker with James Maloney suspended and at the very least the display will give stand-in five-eighth Jarome Luai some confidence to draw upon as he maintains his starting spot this week. Maloney will return and fill in for Cleary at first receiver and perhaps this shake-up will assist Maloney given he’s experienced his own run of lower than expected form.

The win did see Penrith’s already stretched backs depth take two further blows with representative centres Dean Whare and Waqa Blake each suffering injuries which threaten to rule them out for a minimum of four and eight weeks respectively – which means makeshift centres Isaah Yeo and Brent Naden and therefore even further disjointed attacking combinations. The key to victory likely rests in the hands of Maloney. No doubt smarting from playing himself out of his cherished Blues selection, Maloney has to step up and lead the way. He has an enormous experience advantage (235 games) compared to Luai (9 games) plus Manly’s halves Cade Cust (2 games) and Kane Elgey (56 games) and needs to capitalise on this. For a side which made losing a painful habit, Penrith have a tremendous opportunity to string together consecutive wins for the first time since week one of last year’s finals.

After their soaring 2019 start the Sea Eagles swiftly plummeted back to land in their shock 36-18 loss to Gold Coast at Lottoland. For a side who have built their surprising top eight run on attitude, Manly found themselves beaten time and time again by a Titans side playing without fear.

Tyrone Roberts put on a playmaking clinic but was aided by a surprisingly weak Manly defence and good field position caused from repeated Sea Eagle handling errors. Winger Reuben Garrick was the only Manly outside back not to make an error with ball in hand while young five-eighth Cade Cust couldn’t build on his promising debut. Kane Elgey was one positive, the halfback enjoying a solid game against his old side with two try assists and doing his best with support play. The Sea Eagles ordinarily would field a significantly revamped Origin lineup but this year’s unique circumstances see them in a position of relatively little flux.

Long-term injuries to Tom Trbojevic (not called up for Origin) and Daly Cherry-Evans have seen Manly without these two stars to begin with, while Dylan Walker’s lengthy suspension ended his Blues chances before they started. Jake Trbojevic is however a monumental blow – the lock is irreplaceable with his motor, ball-playing and leadership. Manly will rely on their forward leaders Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake to increase their minutes and metres through the middle, and Api Korisau’s playmaking experience from hooker may also see him take pressure off Manly’s young halves. Coach Des Hasler would have been an upset man with his side’s disappointing performance – beware a side coming off a fresh spray from the mad scientist.

 

Key stats: Penrith have won 9 of their last 12 against Manly. Josh Mansour has eight tries in his last nine matches against Manly. Manly suffered a 26-12 home defeat to North Queensland in last year’s equivalent fixture without their Origin stars. Penrith meanwhile crushed the Warriors 36-4 with Jarome Luai man of the match with two tries.

 

Tip: Panthers - $1.77* (Ladbrokes)

Best bet: Josh Mansour anytime tryscorer - $2.55* (Ladbrokes)

Value bet: Home team to win both halves - $4.90* (Ladbrokes)

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