NRL preview

NRL Tips expert Steve Green previews the Origin-affected clash between Penrith and Manly ahead of Thursday night footy.

Penrith Panthers v Manly Sea Eagles

If Manly were placed at 1.90 against the Panthers a couple of weeks ago, I would have been all over the Sea Eagles. But last week these teams had contrasting fortunes and with Manly now missing their three best players in my book, the Panthers at home are with a decent chance here.

Last week’s performance by Manly against the Titans was really poor. For a team that always turns up and defends well, they were well off the pace – conceding an amazing 7 tries to a Titans team that has struggled to score points all year. If it wasn’t for the poor goal kicking of the Titans, the away team would have cracked 40 points.

While the Panthers were very clumsy in their win against the Eels, their defensive attitude was out of this world (compared to the rubbish they had served up for the first 10 weeks of the season). Although the Eels error rate was horrendous, some of this came about due to the line speed and aggression of the Panthers defence.

While the Panthers are without Nathan Cleary, this loss is softened by the return of Maloney – with Luai holding his spot in the halves. And although losing Waqa and Whare has decimated their centre stocks, I like the move of Yeo out wide (he was a former winger!) and Naden has always impressed me in the NSW Cup, so he finally gets his NRL debut. Outside them, Mansour and To’o are excellent ball carriers who combined for an amazing 400 running metres last weekend.

So, although I am not expecting clinical backline moves, the Panthers have the troops to get the job done against a Manly backline that was severely exposed last weekend. Plus, Manly are now also missing Parker and Suli, so they too have a lack of centres to choose from.

And I have no doubt that the Panthers plan to send Kikau towards Walker all night long. Walker was shown up for his lack of size on multiple occasions last weekend and without Jake T in the middle, you would expect the Manly defence to be even more fragile this weekend.

While Manly still have some real talent in the middle of the mark, their go forward does drop off when Taupau and Fonua-Blake go off for a rest…so if the Panthers can stay close for the opening 20, they will rate their chances in the back end of the first half.

While Manly have been far more impressive all year, there is a chance that this Manly team, who is now missing their star half and lock to Origin duty, is fatigued from the number of injured players they have had to cover over the past month:

  • Tom Trbojevic
  • Lachlan Croker
  • Moses Suli
  • Toafofoa Sipley
  • Brad Parker

I am not sure if the Panthers can maintain their defensive aggression for the entire 80 minutes in this one, but they are in front of a home crowd that is overdue for a good performance, so I think they will fight hard and keep this one close.

I don’t think there is any value in the line or head to head markets, but this game features a lot of players that are small are easy to target in defence (Maloney, Luai, Elgey, Cust, Walker etc…)…so I think that eventually the points will come in this match and the 37.5 is too low.

 

Predicted Score

Manly 22

Penrith 20

 

Suggested Bet: Over 37.5 Total Points

 

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NRL preview