The first game on Saturday has the Panthers, recently knocked out of their top two spot, playing at home against the Newcastle Knights at CUA Stadium.
Last week Penrith sunk to number three after the Rabbitohs handed them a big 42 – 22 loss, Manly moving up to number two.
The Panthers should get back on track this week and will enjoy playing at home. Newcastle has been very hit-and-miss this season only managing four wins. They will be fresh off a bye on Saturday night though, so Penrith need to be prepared for this.
With the home ground advantage and more consistent form this year, the Panthers are the clear favourites with the bookies currently paying $1.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au while the Knights are out to $2.65.
We are sticking with the favourites here thinking Penrith will maintain their spot in the top four for at least another week, as long as they can struggle on without instrumental veteran Petero Civoniceva, out with a broken hand.
Last week the Panthers only got a 40 minute warm-up after a serious traffic accident stopped them from getting to South Sydney any earlier, so expect them to be far more prepared and dangerous here.
Newcastle should also improve from their last match, when they lost 23 – 6 to the Tigers in Round 11. The Knights have back the talented trio of Kurt Gidley, Jarrod Mullen and Isaac De Gois as well as Adam MacDougall and James McManus, who have the ability to make a big difference, but will it be enough.
Penrith won by four the last time these two met back in round four, when Newcastle gave away a comfortable half time lead to lose the match. Even without their captain we think the Panthers can do it again and give No. 12 Trent Waterhouse a win for his 150th first grade game.
Current Head-to-Head Odds: Panthers $1.50 – Knights $2.65 Ladbrokes.com.au
Round 13 Panthers Team:
1. Lachlan Coote 2. Michael Gordon 3. Michael Jennings 4. Adrian Purtell 5. Brad Tighe 6. Travis Burns 7. Luke Walsh 8. Tim Grant 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Matthew Bell 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Trent Waterhouse 13. Luke Lewis
Bench: 14. Masada Iosefa 15. Nathan Smith 16. Sam McKendry 17. Wade Graham
Reserve: 18. Franki Puletua
Round 13 Knights Team:
1. Wes Naiqama 2. Akuila Uate 3. Junior Sa’u 4. Adam MacDougall 5. James McManus 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Kurt Gidley (c) 8. Ben Cross 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Dan Tolar 11. Steve Simpson 12. Cory Paterson 13. Zeb Taia
Bench: 14. Matt Hilder 15. Cameron Ciraldo 16. Richie Fa’aoso 17. Con Mika
Reserve: 18. Joel Edwards