Infotainment Factory: Panthers' silver lining with no Cleary

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Panthers' silver lining with no Cleary


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Wide World of Sports stats guru David Middleton breaks down Round 12 of the NRL season, to bring you the biggest talking points of the three matches broadcast by Channel Nine.

Luai looms as Panthers’ talisman

Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai will be aiming to turn back the clock almost 12 months when he takes the field against the Sea Eagles at Panthers Stadium tonight.

It was in similar circumstances last July that Luai announced himself as a future star with a dazzling display against the Warriors that ignited a 36-4 victory. The Panthers were missing both James Maloney and Nathan Cleary to Origin duty, along with prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and utility Tyrone Peachey but Luai was happy to take centre stage in only his second game in the top grade.

Panthers v Sea Eagles preview: Round 12

Then 21, Luai scored two tries and kicked six goals in one of the finest individual displays of the 2018 season.

Opportunities have been limited for Luai since that game but Cleary’s selection for the Blues next Wednesday night hands him a rare starting position in the Panthers’ line-up. Named at five-eighth, Luai will partner Maloney for the first time and as the Panthers attempt to drag themselves back into form after their recent six-game losing streak, their combination will be crucial in tonight’s game.

Although Cleary is the only Panther called on by Origin selectors, injuries to both centres Dean Whare and Waqa Blake have left Penrith with a makeshift three-quarter line, with Isaah Yeo returning from a shoulder injury to partner first-gamer Brent Naden.

The Sea Eagles are even harder hit by injury and Origin selection, with Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic preparing for Wednesday night’s game and centre Brad Parker (broken jaw) joining a lengthy injury list.

Eels face do-or-die test

Parramatta will face few more crucial matches this season than tomorrow night’s clash with competition leaders South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium.

After losing ground with three straight defeats, this is a game the Eels cannot afford to lose. They are one of only two teams unaffected by Origin selections (the Warriors are the other) and they will confront a Rabbitohs line-up without four of their star performers.

Eels v Rabbitohs preview: Round 12

Outside of Sam Burgess, the Rabbitohs’ Origin trio of Damien Cook, Cody Walker and Cameron Murray have been among their team’s best players every week this season and have been instrumental in the team’s seven-game winning streak. Between them the trio have been responsible for 40 tries and try assists and along with Maroons’ back Dane Gagai, their loss will inevitably leave the Rabbitohs vulnerable to defeat.

But the Eels, a huge disappointment at home against the Panthers last Thursday night, must take their chances if they are to claim the victory. They managed a single try against Penrith, whose defence had leaked like a sieve in previous games. The return of experienced centre Michael Jennings should add to their attacking strike-power but another loss here will leave their finals aspirations in tatters.

Titans’ attack beginning to hum

Titans v Cowboys preview: Round 12

A Gold Coast team boosted by a big win over Manly last Friday night will fancy their chances against the Cowboys in Sunday’s Queensland derby at Cbus Super Stadium.

The Titans produced one of their finest away wins in the 36-18 defeat of the Sea Eagles, scoring seven tries to three in the process. It is interesting to note that all seven Titans’ tries were scored down the left side of the field, where centre Brian Kelly and winger Dale Copley have developed an imposing combination.

The pair have made the most of the chances created by halves Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor to the extent that the Titans’ left-side attack is now ranked second behind the Roosters after 11 rounds of the competition.

Copley has capitalised in spectacular fashion, helping himself to a hat-trick of tries against the Sea Eagles and six from his past three games.

Lock Jai Arrow is their only player unavailable through Origin selection but he missed the Titans’ win over Manly through injury.

The Cowboys are missing playmaker Michael Morgan and middle forward Josh McGuire to Origin, while centre Justin O’Neill and prop Matt Scott join a lengthy casualty ward after picking up injuries in last Saturday’s win over the Raiders.

The Cowboys retain a formidable pack led by lock Jason Taumalolo, while John Asiata and young Jake Clifford are likely to produce plenty of attacking variety out wide.

Wide World of Sports stats guru David Middleton breaks down Round 12 of the NRL season, to bring you the biggest talking points of the three matches broadcast by Channel Nine.

Luai looms as Panthers’ talisman

Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai will be aiming to turn back the clock almost 12 months when he takes the field against the Sea Eagles at Panthers Stadium tonight.

It was in similar circumstances last July that Luai announced himself as a future star with a dazzling display against the Warriors that ignited a 36-4 victory. The Panthers were missing both James Maloney and Nathan Cleary to Origin duty, along with prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and utility Tyrone Peachey but Luai was happy to take centre stage in only his second game in the top grade.

Panthers v Sea Eagles preview: Round 12

Then 21, Luai scored two tries and kicked six goals in one of the finest individual displays of the 2018 season.

Opportunities have been limited for Luai since that game but Cleary’s selection for the Blues next Wednesday night hands him a rare starting position in the Panthers’ line-up. Named at five-eighth, Luai will partner Maloney for the first time and as the Panthers attempt to drag themselves back into form after their recent six-game losing streak, their combination will be crucial in tonight’s game.

Although Cleary is the only Panther called on by Origin selectors, injuries to both centres Dean Whare and Waqa Blake have left Penrith with a makeshift three-quarter line, with Isaah Yeo returning from a shoulder injury to partner first-gamer Brent Naden.

The Sea Eagles are even harder hit by injury and Origin selection, with Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic preparing for Wednesday night’s game and centre Brad Parker (broken jaw) joining a lengthy injury list.

Eels face do-or-die test

Parramatta will face few more crucial matches this season than tomorrow night’s clash with competition leaders South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium.

After losing ground with three straight defeats, this is a game the Eels cannot afford to lose. They are one of only two teams unaffected by Origin selections (the Warriors are the other) and they will confront a Rabbitohs line-up without four of their star performers.

Eels v Rabbitohs preview: Round 12

Outside of Sam Burgess, the Rabbitohs’ Origin trio of Damien Cook, Cody Walker and Cameron Murray have been among their team’s best players every week this season and have been instrumental in the team’s seven-game winning streak. Between them the trio have been responsible for 40 tries and try assists and along with Maroons’ back Dane Gagai, their loss will inevitably leave the Rabbitohs vulnerable to defeat.

But the Eels, a huge disappointment at home against the Panthers last Thursday night, must take their chances if they are to claim the victory. They managed a single try against Penrith, whose defence had leaked like a sieve in previous games. The return of experienced centre Michael Jennings should add to their attacking strike-power but another loss here will leave their finals aspirations in tatters.

Titans’ attack beginning to hum

Titans v Cowboys preview: Round 12

A Gold Coast team boosted by a big win over Manly last Friday night will fancy their chances against the Cowboys in Sunday’s Queensland derby at Cbus Super Stadium.

The Titans produced one of their finest away wins in the 36-18 defeat of the Sea Eagles, scoring seven tries to three in the process. It is interesting to note that all seven Titans’ tries were scored down the left side of the field, where centre Brian Kelly and winger Dale Copley have developed an imposing combination.

The pair have made the most of the chances created by halves Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor to the extent that the Titans’ left-side attack is now ranked second behind the Roosters after 11 rounds of the competition.

Copley has capitalised in spectacular fashion, helping himself to a hat-trick of tries against the Sea Eagles and six from his past three games.

Lock Jai Arrow is their only player unavailable through Origin selection but he missed the Titans’ win over Manly through injury.

The Cowboys are missing playmaker Michael Morgan and middle forward Josh McGuire to Origin, while centre Justin O’Neill and prop Matt Scott join a lengthy casualty ward after picking up injuries in last Saturday’s win over the Raiders.

The Cowboys retain a formidable pack led by lock Jason Taumalolo, while John Asiata and young Jake Clifford are likely to produce plenty of attacking variety out wide.

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