Round 6: Panthers v Titans preview
Former teammates collide as in-form Panthers and Titans meet on Sunday afternoon
The Panthers will be looking for three-straight victories on Sunday when they come up against the Gold Coast. Last week's win 12-6 over Parramatta was hardly impressive, with Anthony Griffin's men coming up with 42 missed tackles and 13 errors. Fortunately, despite gifting the Eels plenty of opportunities, Penrith stood up in defence and earned a hard-fought win. The home side, however, will have to contend with a growing injury toll as they look to down the improving Titans. Exciting young centre Waqa Blake joins regular first graders Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Nathan Cleary, Sam McKendry, Tim Browne and Tyrone May on the sideline. Isaah Yeo has been named in the centres in Blake's place with Corey Harawira-Naera coming into the starting side and Kaide Ellis making his debut off the bench. There is the chance, however, that Harawira-Naera and Yeo may swap positions after the former trained at right centre during the week.
There will be added motivation for the Titans on Sunday afternoon as several former Panthers, including coach Garth Brennan, come up against their old teammates for the first time. Bryce Cartwright, Mitch Rein and Leilani Latu will all potentially line up at Panthers Stadium for the first time in Blue and Gold with the latter unlikely to do so after being named on the extended bench. While bragging rights are an added bonus, coach Brennan will be more determined to gain the two competition points as to build on his side's two consecutive victories over Brisbane and Manly. They will have to do so, however, without Ryan James who has been wiped out for one week with suspension. After being thumped 54-8 by the Dragons, the Gold Coast have responded in impressive fashion and will be hoping to claim another scalp on Sunday as they look to stay inside the Top Eight.
Who to watch: For the home side, Reagan Campbell-Gillard has asserted himself as one of the best props in the competition and will be looking to maintain his form as a State of Origin debut looms later this year. The barnstorming front rower was enormous in last week's win over the Eels with his aggression in defence being particularly impressive. The Gold Coast have one of the most underrated packs in the competition and Penrith will need RCG to continue to lead from the front if they are to emerge victorious.
Meanwhile, the Gold Coast will be hoping that former Panther Bryce Cartwright can replicate his performance last week against Manly at a more consistent basis. Cartwright found the perfect balance between hard running and flair with seven hit-ups, 95 running metres and a spectacular flick pass try-assist. The bench forward will need to step up even more this week as his bag of tricks won't be fooling his former teammates.
The favourite: Penrith are well-backed at less than $1.50 to take down the Titans.
My tip: This is a massive danger game for the home side. They must fix up their ball control otherwise the Gold Coast, unlike Parramatta, will have no problems in taking their chances. If you need an upset to separate yourself from the pack in your tipping competition, this may be the game. However, Penrith have won 8 of their past 10 at Panthers Stadium and that may just be enough to get them home. Panthers by 4.