Penrith Panthers - 11th Place
Reasons: Petero Civinoceva: When the inspirational leader was there it was indeed extremely noticeable. When he was injured, his absence was also extremely noticeable. The injury to Civinoceva also occured in the wrong end of the season. It was always going to be a huge blow, but fans are able to expect big things from him in 2010. Collapse: The Panthers were able to put the game to some of the biggest teams in the competition, however against some of the lowly sides they were still able to go missing. There was some incredible scorelines against them, making 2009 another year for Panther fans to scratch their heads in wonder. Luke Walsh: The form of their late signing has given the Panthers their best half in years. He was able to put his mark on a few games, however went missing a few times as well. If he improves in 2010, this could give the Panthers a real shot at the title.
Losses Paul Aiton (Hooker) Cronulla Sharks Geoff Daniela (Utility Back) Wests Tigers Junior Tia-Kilifi (Centre) Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Junior Moors (Second Row) Wests Tigers Adam Woolnough (Prop) Retirement
Best Win of the Year: Whilst their 38-34 win over the Eels showed the attacking abilities the Panthers possessed, the 40-10 win over South Sydney really showed the Panthers at their eighty minute best. Their second half showed slick skill by the backline, something expected in every match from the faithful Penrith fans.
Worst Loss of the Year: I know there is only meant to be one, but three come into mind. They were around that win against South Sydney in the end of the season, so I guess that showed the inconsistency. Whilst the 48-6 loss to the Eels and the 35-0 loss to the Knights were painful, the 58-24 defeat in the hands of the Broncos was the real turning point to the red zone for the Panthers. Conceding 40 unanswered points in the second half was another reason for Panthers fans to lose confidence.
Statistics Paul Aiton was the only player to play every match for the Panthers in 2009. For the third year in a row (in his third season of first grade) Michael Jennings finished as the Panthers top tryscorer. Jennings also put his mark completely on a few games with three hat-tricks during the season. After their 48-6 win over the Roosters the Panthers were 4th, the first top four entry since 2006. Michael Gordon had an incredible year with the boot, kicking at 93%, missing only four from 61 attempts.
2009 Headline "Civinoceva out for season"
Odds to win in 2010 $36 (odds courtesy of Betfair)
Where will they finish next year? Like every season, it could be first, it could be last.