Panthers v Rabbitohs preview

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Sunday afternoon football rolls into Centrebet Stadium this weekend when the Panthers battle the Rabbitohs in an intriguing round three clash.

The agony of their first-up loss to the Bulldogs was forgotten last week when the Panthers plucked the Roosters 18-0 on the road.

It was the first time the Panthers have held a side to zip since Cronulla in 2003 (20-0, for all you pundits!) – a year that saw them go on to win the premiership.

While it’s far too early to be thinking along the same lines, last week’s victory was full of positives that the boys will take into this clash with the Bunnies.

For starters, there’s the form of Michael Jennings, who has taken just two games to eclipse his tryscoring total for 2011. He’s been getting his hands on the ball more, and it’s paying dividends.

Perhaps the biggest positive, however, was the overall defensive display. Ivan Cleary’s charges showed plenty of starch to hold out a Roosters outfit that threw plenty at them.

The Rabbitohs, it must be said, are a classier outfit, and the fact that they’re coming off two losses will make them even more dangerous.

They’re buoyed by the return of Issac Luke to the starting line-up. He was absent for their first-round loss to the Roosters, and played only half a game against the Storm – during which time he was involved in both of Souths’ tries.

Luke is incredibly important to the Rabbitohs’ success, and his creativity out of dummy half is something the Panthers must work hard to contain.

With Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess and Dave Taylor, there’s no shortage of attacking power in this Rabbitohs line-up, and if any of these three fire then last week’s defensive effort will be a minimum requirement for a Penrith victory.

As far as the home side goes, the squad is almost identical to that which dominated the Roosters.

Etu Uaisele and Sandor Earl retain their spots on the wings after strong performances last week – particularly Uaisele, who was impressive on debut.

Tim Grant again misses out through injury, with Dayne Weston keeping his starting position. No doubt Grant will be given up until game day to prove his fitness – his addition to the rotation would be a real bonus.

In the only change, Blake Austin is named on an extended bench after missing last week’s clash with a corked thigh.

Can Penrith make it two from two?

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