Election night this Saturday won’t just be about the battle for the top job in Canberra, it will also see two old foes lock horns when the top of the table Panthers take on a resurgent Sydney Roosters at the SCG.
Both teams are coming off strong last start victories, with the Roosters taking care of business against an in-form Parramatta, while Penrith dealt Melbourne their largest defeat since 2014.
After dismantling the Storm with relative ease during the NRL’s Magic Round, Panthers prop Scott Sorensen said their 26-point victory came down to preparation and outsmarting their opponent.
“The Melbourne Storm are Premiership heavyweights. Their results over the last month of footy has seen them come up with some big wins,” he told Extra Time.
“For us, it wasn’t necessarily focusing on the result, it was more focusing on our process and what we do well. Obviously we prepared really well for them, we came up with a few things in attack and defence that we thought would be smart and it seemed to work for us.
“Putting that in place and preparing really well, you’re going to give yourself the best chance against such a good team.”
Making Penrith’s performance against the 2020 Premiers even more remarkable was the fact they did it without their inspirational coach Ivan Cleary, who missed his second straight game with a knee infection.
Sorensen said while Cleary was missed on game day, he was there in spirit through his very capable assistants and co-captains.
“You always love having your head coach there, for sure, but under the circumstances he couldn’t be,” Sorensen said.
“The group dealt with it really well though, obviously led by our assistant coaches Cameron Ciraldo and Andrew Webster and the staff, they did an amazing job to make sure we were prepared and ready to go.
“I also feel like we’ve got two really good leaders in our captains that know how to direct and steer the ship around off the field as well.”
With Cleary set to be back in the box on Saturday night, he’ll no doubt be hoping his side can build off last weekend’s statement-making result.
Trent Robinson’s men have won their last two games and have re-entered the top four after their upset win over Parramatta.
“It’s no surprise that they’re back in the top four. 1-17 they are a really strong side and a real dangerous attacking side across the field,” Sorensen said.
“Coming off another good win on the weekend, I think they’re building really nicely and I think they’re really starting to play some good footy.
“Hopefully we can build off our result on the weekend and put up another strong performance against the Roosters because we’re going to have to – they’re a really, really strong side.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.