With six wins from six games at the quarter mark of the season, this report card is going to be one full of glowing praise.
However, the Panthers are far from playing at their peak and nor should they be because premierships aren’t won in March … or April for that matter.
Attack: The Panthers are equal second in points scored with 160. At times the attack has looked slick and sublime while at other times it has lacked polish and finesse. The best is definitely yet to come. GRADE: B+
Defence: Penrith have built their season so far on unrelenting, in your face defence and we all know premierships are won on the back of great ‘D’. In this area of the game the Panthers rank number one giving up a measly 38 points. GRADE: A+
Player performances: There’s no doubt Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o and James Fisher-Harris are playing at an extremely high level. They are the pick of a great bunch. However let’s not forget they have been well supported by the likes of Viliame Kikau and Isaah Yeo. GRADE: A
Coaching: Ivan Cleary and his assistants Cameron Ciraldo and Andrew Webster have not been out-coached in any game this season. In every game the Panthers have stuck to their structures, remained patient and executed their game plans to perfection. Games like the one against Brisbane will happen every now and then but to find a way to win despite not playing at your best is a real achievement. GRADE: A
What caught my eye last week…
Latrell Mitchell gets so many wraps from the rugby league media you would think the kid walks on water. I’ve got no doubt the Bunnies would have lost the game against the Tigers if he didn’t play but what was also noticed was several unsavoury indiscretions that he did during the game. He was subsequently suspended for four matches.
What game I’m looking forward to…
Believe it or not it’s the Storm vs Warriors on Sunday night. Over the years the Warriors have had some memorable victories against Melbourne and always give the Storm trouble no matter where each team is sitting on the ladder.
My tips for the week…
Panthers, Rabbitohs, Eels, Sharks, Raiders, Tigers, Dragons, Storm.
The final word…
Storm hooker Brandon Smith was asked on ‘Sunday Night with Matty Johns’, what changes he’d make if he was in charge of Fox Sports for a day. He said he’d get rid of Paul Kent and call the show ‘NRL 120’ and while he was at it, he’d sack James Hooper too. I couldn’t agree with you more, champ!
Peter Lang is an experienced writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.