Lang On League: My mid-season report card

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I can’t believe we’re halfway through the 2022 season, it’s gone so fast with some wonderful football being played by the Panthers to this point. A big plus is the fact that Penrith won their first three games without halfback Nathan Cleary.

It’s true when they say all the teams the Premiers play during the season lift a notch when taking them on. Only one loss and 11 wins means that the Panthers can handle the heat and don’t need to leave the kitchen.


Currently Penrith have scored 344 points, which is the second-best attack in the competition behind the Storm with 375 points. The Panthers have convincingly beaten contenders like the Storm (32-6), Broncos (40-12) and the Roosters (32-12) showing a great deal of patience in attack. In saying that, I don’t think Penrith have hit their peak in attack yet and they don’t need to at the halfway mark.

Nathan Cleary in action against the Roosters. Photo: NRL Images.


Not surprisingly, given they built their 2021 Premiership on the back of their defence, the Panthers are the number one team in this department, letting in a paltry 128 points or a measly 10.6 a game. Some of their defensive highlights include matches against the Cowboys (22-0), Sea Eagles (28-6) and the Storm (32-6). Even so, I still feel there’s plenty of improvement left in the boys who have only conceded 20 points or more only twice this year, a 38-20 win over the Knights and a 22-20 loss to the Eels.

Player performances

Once again it’s been the senior players who have not only carried over their wonderful form from last season, e.g. Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards, but gone up a cog as well. Other big improvers include Viliame Kikau, Taylan May and Izack Tago. The last two have been particularly strong and made Penrith’s left side attack a particularly brutal weapon to fire. Stephen Crichton also deserves special mention as his improved form has seen him selected for the New South Wales in State of Origin.

Viliame Kikau scores for Penrith against the Dragons. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Who needs to lift

While he’s still posting impressive numbers, Brian To’o has been a little under his blistering form of last season. A serious knee injury earlier this year has meant that it’s taken the pocket rocket a few weeks to really blast-off upon his return but he showed he was almost back to his best against the Cowboys last week.


Has been nothing short of perfect really. I mean when you lose one game out of 12 you must be doing something right. The most impressive part of the coaching this year came when Ivan Cleary missed two games due to a knee problem. One game was a close two-point loss while the other, a convincing victory over the Storm.


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