Kevin Kingston will lead Penrith in the battle of Sydney's west against Canterbury. Picture: Mark Evans/news.com.au
Panthers v Bulldogs
Saturday, March 22 – 15.35pm (AEST)
Penrith: WL Canterbury: LW
Penrith: WL Canterbury: LW
Things you need to know:
A couple of big inclusions for Penrith with representative pair Jamie Soward and Tim Grant back from the side that went down by a point to Melbourne last weekend. But prop Brent Kite is forced to make way through injury. Canterbury coach Des Hasler has named an unchanged side after Monday's 42-4 demolition of an undermanned Cronulla. The Panthers haven't beaten the Bulldogs since 2011.
Reason to watch:
The Bulldogs were arguably the best performed side of round 2, running in seven tries against the horribly outclassed Sharks. It wasn't just their attack that impressed but there was a return of their aggression and power in their defence. Hasler rates the Panthers as the form side over the opening fortnight so both sides head into this one in good nick. Penrith flyer Josh Mansour has made a superb start to the season and has been mentioned as a NSW Origin bolter in some circles. He's big, strong, quick and mean...everything you need in a good winger.
Reason to turn away:
There has been a search party out there looking for Tony 'T-Rex' Williams pretty much since he signed his big-money deal to join the Bulldogs. At almost two metres tall and 120kgs, Williams has the ability to trample over his opponents if he can just get his head in the game. His effort – and at times lack of interest - must be infuriating to Bulldogs fans who just want to see the destructive back-rower live up to his potential. Against a Panthers side with big-hitters like Adam Docker and Nigel Plum, don't expect Williams to go looking for too much ball again.
"Ivan (coach Ivan Cleary) being here was one of many factors in why I came to Penrith and I always kept in touch with him after he left the Warriors. The leadership, Phil Gould, the plans they have in place and the history of the club were also very important in my decision. The slogan we have here is 'Respect the past but look to the future', and I like what that stands for." – Panthers back-rower Elijah Taylor
There is plenty to get excited about with the Panthers. Their new-look side seems to be gelling quickly and if they can maintain their improvement are in for a big season. Cleary would have got more out of their heart-breaking loss to the Storm – when they were canned in penalties and possession – than the big win over Newcastle in round 1 and will want more of the same. Canterbury should be high on confidence but it should be noted their huge win on Monday night came against a Sharks side with probably half their salary cap watching from the stands. Panthers by 4
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