Penrith Panthers show promise for 2008

NRL Round 24, 2007
Penrith Panthers 28 def Sydney Roosters 22

The Panthers again showcased their attacking flair, this week they put an end to the Sydney Roosters faint finals hopes in a display that will have Panthers fans quietly confident for next year.

The Roosters were continually forfeiting possession tonight and their completion rate was woeful, really hampering them and preventing any chance of a miracle comeback against the hot Panthers.

Penrith Panthers coach Matthew Elliott seems to have the right combination in place – this week Luke Lewis playing at pivot and combining nicely with Craig Gower. Lewis playing a second fiddle role and not overpowering Gower which Peter Wallace has done on occasions.

On most of the occasions Penrith spun the ball wide, their outside men were having huge success on the fringe. Frank Pritchard and Maurice Blair in particular proved a handful for the Roosters tonight, as did the high ball in attack from Penrith. Both Perret and Roberts spilling high bombs and opening the door for the Panthers in good territory.

The other area Penrith impressed was with their defence. They scrambled and showed good pride in their line tonight, preventing certain Roosters tries on at least 3 occasions. Good awareness from O’Hallaran and some good reads on the edge from Michael Gordon prevented certain 4 pointers.

For the Roosters, apart from poor handling – discipline absolutely killed them. Especially with Steve ‘Terminator’ Clarke doing the refereeing, the grapple tackle calls were coming thick and fast. At one stage Shillington giving away 2-3 penalties in the space of 5 minutes. When the Panthers got the opportunity they took it, something the Roosters simply couldn’t do.

The increasingly impressive form of the Panthers will see them avoid the wooden spoon this year and hand it squarely to Newcastle. The improving Penrith side would probably trouble some of the Top 8 sides at present with the way they are playing, the positive note they finish this year on puts them in good stead for a strong start to 2008.

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