Sitting eighth on the NRL ladder, the Panthers’ 5-6 record does not do justice for how well this side has played this year.
Penrith will be searching for their first win in Melbourne since 2005 though the team that is making the trip south is more than capable of breaking the drought.
With Origin debutants Josh Mansour and Matt Moylan named to back up for the trip to Melbourne there are plenty for Storm to ponder.
We take a look at the key strengths of the opposition heading into Saturday night’s clash at AAMI Park.
Josh Mansour, Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright are the key playmakers to the Panthers up-tempo, ad-lib style of football. Each player is very different in their style but all three are hard to defend against. Mansour is a metres-gathering machine, Moylan a creative guru while Cartwright would have joined them in a Blues jersey on Wednesday night if not for a thumb injury that forced him to withdraw from Origin camp. Craig Bellamy will have no doubt watched plenty of film on them during the week and quelling their impact will go a long way to Storm winning the game.
Despite having a 5-6 record, the Panthers are yet to play a bad game this year. They have been an 80-minute team although their games have certainly tested the heart rate of their supporters. Ten of their 11 games have been decided by eight points or less. Their defeats have come in nail-biting fashion, all by less than six points. Given they had an average losing margin of 13 points last season, Penrith’s ability to hang in the contest is a big improvement in their 2016 campaign.
Different prospect than 12 months ago
Consistency is key for an NRL side and the ability for Anthony Griffin to select a consistent 13 each week is important. Injuries ruined the Panthers in 2015 however this season they have been able to have access to most of their playing group. Melbourne beat Penrith by 42 and 20 points in both games last year but neither Moylan nor Mansour played in those games. That means it will be a very different Panthers team that arrives at AAMI Park this time around.