Next generation Panthers in title fight against Roosters

The Panthers celebrate last week's Finals win over Newcastle. Photo: Jake Hunter.
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Penrith will be chasing their eighth SG Ball title since 1977 this Saturday when they battle the Sydney Roosters at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta.

The minor premiership-winning Roosters and fourth-placed Panthers will do battle for the first time this season when they go head-to-head Saturday afternoon in the 2022 SG Ball Cup Grand Final.

Penrith’s last Under 18’s title was in 2018 when then Panthers five-eighth Matt Burton picked up Man of the Match honours, while the Roosters haven’t tasted glory since 2014 when a young Latrell Mitchell scored the match-winning try in the decider – ironically against the Panthers.

After Penrith took care of the high-flying Newcastle Knights 25-6 in last Saturday’s Semi Final at Kogarah, first-year Panthers SG Ball coach Scott Thompson said his side are full of confidence heading into Saturday’s clash against the boys from Bondi.

“The boys are in a good zone and a good place with their footy. They are enjoying what they do and that’s a big part of it. I can’t see why we can’t go in with the same mentality this week as well,” he said.

The Roosters, who are yet to lose a game this season, booked their place in this weekend’s decider following a strong 32-12 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown.

Photo: Jake Hunter.

Boasting the best defence in the competition, the Tricolours will go into Saturday’s game as firm favourites over the Panthers despite the two sides not going toe-to-toe at all this year.

“We’ve built our side around defence too,” Thompson hit back.

“The last two weeks we’ve only conceded a try in both games. We’ll be focusing on our own backyard this week and making sure all our systems are in place and that we’re playing to the standards that we set ourselves.”

While Burton led the Panthers to Grand Final glory in 2018, it was current NRL back-up half Sean O’Sullivan steering the ship for them back in the 2016 decider. This year, talented Dolphins-bound half Isaiya Katoa takes the reigns as he looks to win Penrith a third SG Ball Premiership in six seasons.

“Most halfbacks are your key players and he’s no exception to the rule,” Thompson said.

“Isaiya is only three games back from a broken wrist and he’s getting back to the peak of his powers already.”

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