The New Men In Black

Will Smith - Penrith Panthers
Will Smith again lines up for the Panthers on Sunday. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.

St George Illawarra Dragons Logo

Dragons v Panthers

WIN Stadium

Sunday August 10 – 3:05 PM (AEST)




Penrith Panthers Logo

Penrith may have  won four straight against St George Illawarra and eight years since they lost in Wollongong, but the Dragons have been heavily supported on TattsBet.

The Panthers' resurgence is partly due to Jamie Soward who is fast becoming the buy of the season. When Phil Gould signed Soward to Penrith last year, many thought he was crazy. But Soward has repaid that faith with some outstanding performances this year.

But the Dragons also went out on limb on signing a player who many thought had his best years behind him. The Dragons enlisted Benji Marshall in May and it is finally paying dividends. Although they lost to the Roosters last week, Marshall was solid at half, even scoring a try reminiscent to the ones he scored in his prime.

The problem for the Panthers is player - seven of their top 17 are sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the season. Three of the casualties are Soward’s potential halves partners. Enter rookie Will Smith. He may not be the Hollywood star, but he is becoming a household name in the rugby league world. At times last week he was overshadowed by Soward, but definitely improved as the game went on. The way he took on the line was similar to that of a young Brad Fittler. Finishing with 3 tackle busts and 1 line break, Smith is ready to make the position his own. Sam McKendry starts in the front row for the injured Brent Kite (pec), while Isaah Yeo slots into the back row for Elijah Taylor (knee). With Bryce Cartwright (ankle) ruled out, Matt Robinson, Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston, Sam Anderson and Ryan Simpkins all join an extended bench.

Essentially this is the last chance for the Dragons. Sitting in 11th place on the ladder, one more loss could spell the end in 2014. Due to their poor for-and-against, they need to win four of their last five games to possibly secure a finals berth. Given they face the Raiders, Titans, Broncos and Knights in the final rounds, it’s not impossible. Coach Paul McGregor has named an unchanged side which went down to the Roosters last week, with Bronson Harrison and Dan Hunt added to a six-man bench.

It’s do-or-die for the Dragons and that can bring out the best in a team. If Marshall and Gareth Widdop play the way they have been, the home side might just cause an upset on Sunday.

Channel 9

Toby's Tip: PEN\StGI for Halftime\Fulltime

Toby Burke - Twitter

View Full NRL Markets