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Penrith Vs. Canterbury
2015 NRL Premiership Season, 9 March, 2015
|Pepper Stadium, Penrith, NSW|
|Penrith 24 defeated Canterbury 18|
|Referee: Cummins, B|
|Touch judges: Atkins, G & Suttor, B|
An intriguing rematch of last year’s preliminary final awaits as the Penrith Panthers seek to take revenge for their 2014 exit at the hands of the Canterbury Bulldogs at Pepper Stadium. Join The Roar from 3.50pm (AEDT) for live scores and coverage.
How will Peter Wallace fare after rupturing his ACL? How will the Morris’s perform after being reunited once again?
After last season’s 18-12 loss ended a highly unexpected year of success, the Panthers return with an almost identical lineup in 2015.
21 year-old George Jennings (brother of Michael) will make his debut from the wing, linking up with Matt Moylan (23) and Dallin Watene Zelezniak (19) to form the youngest back three in the competition.
Captain Peter Wallace returns from a ruptured ACL to form a highly experienced halves combination with fellow former Origin player, Jamie Soward.
A well-balanced forward pack returns to be lead by veterans Brent Kite and Sika Manu, whilst youngsters Tyron Peachey and Bryce Cartwright return to the bench following season ending injuries. New reserve hooker Apisai Koroisau has been named as 19th man, indicating Segeyaro will play the full 80 minutes.
Winger Josh Mansour and big-hitter Nigel Plum are both still recovering from off-season surgeries.
For the Bulldogs, an almost empty casualty ward leaves them in great stead to open their season on a high. It took a South Sydney freight train to stop them in 2014, after a stunning late season surge which was almost as surprising as Penrith’s campaign.
Brett Morris will not only link up with his brother Josh for the umpteenth time, but be given plenty of space and opportunities from fullback. A new-look back three with Sam Perrett switching back to the wing, and Cowboys recruit Curtis Rona coming in, looks a major upgrade to the 2014 edition.
After struggling through injury in last year’s Grand Final, Trent Hodkinson will look to continue to develop a formidable combination with Origin partner Josh Reynolds.
At hooker, 21 year-old recruit from the Sharks Michael Lichaa has big boots to fill in replacing skipper Michael Ennis. However, his job will be made a lot easier with a full strength forward pack around him.
Big boppers Sam Kasiano, David Klemmer, Frank Pritchard and Tim Browne form the most intimidating bench in the competition. And that’s just the bench! With the mongrel of James Graham leading the charge as Captain in 2015, the Bulldogs will be every bit as tough as last season.
After reaching a preliminary final for the first time since 2004, expectations at the foot of the mountains haven’t been this high since Craig Gower said ‘arrivederci’. However, the loss of Nigel Plum could see them too light to handle the Bulldogs juggernaut.
Also the addition of Brett Morris, and the subtraction of Josh Mansour, limits any advantage the Panthers back line may have had. Coupled with both teams having mixed trial form in preparation (Penrith 0/2, Bulldogs 1/2), I will lean on the Bulldogs taking out a nail-biter.
Bulldogs by 2.
Either way it looms as pick of the matches of the opening round, so join The Roar from 3:50 (AEDT) to follow our live coverage, and remember to leave your comments as the game progresses.