Forbes Charlie Staines and his Penrith Panthers will line up against third-placed South Sydney for the second time in a month this weekend in a preliminary qualifier that is sure to be the clash of the round.
In recent years Penrith and Souths have met a few times at the business end of the season and the Panthers have now won the last five against the Bunnies including last years grand final qualifier 20-16. There is a real rivalry developing between the sides.
A year on and both teams have improved especially Penrith who finished the regular season with the third lowest average points scored against per game in rugby league history. The Panthers conceded only 286 points – or only 11.9 points against them per game. Given Souths propensity to leak points and Penrith’s ability to stop them it may be a tough night for the Rabbitohs who will also be without superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell.
Hopefully Ivan Cleary selects Staines after a three-week hiatus for the young flyer – his clash with Alex Johnston should be a highlight. With the rust run out against the Eels for many players, this should be a classic and the smart money is on Penrith to get the chocolates again!
Tip: Panthers 1-12