Round 5: Penrith v Canberra preview
The Panthers just seem to have forgotten how to lose at the moment.
Ivan Cleary's men cruised to a big 46-6 win over Manly last week despite being without their first-choice fullback and hooker.
Crichton was shaky early, caught out of position in the opening half on a few occasions while he was also thoroughly tested under the high ball.
Getting some early catches out of the way will be key to settling any pre-match nerves on Friday night so he can focus more of his energy on injecting himself into the attack.
Interestingly Charlie Staines switched to fullback at points last week, providing the final pass for a Paul Momirovski try late in the second half and that ploy could be used again by Cleary on Friday.
The bigger test for Penrith this week will be containing a dominant Raiders forward pack.
If the pair can lay a strong platform early it could rattle Penrith, who have grown so used to dominating from the opening whistle.
Looking at the two teams, Canberra also look like they are more than capable of matching the Panthers' lethal bench.
Then there is Tyrone May, whose versatility and varied skillset makes him a perfect super substitute.
The experienced workhorse Sia Soliola then rounds out the bench.
Who to watch: Given the strength of Canberra's forward pack, it will only be more important than ever that the Panthers get support off the bench from Spencer Leniu. The youngster is taking on added responsibility without James Tamou and Zane Tetevano. He is averaging almost four more runs per game along with 26 more metres this season. Papalii and Sutton will prove a tough pair to shut down in the first half but if Penrith do that they will be confident in Leniu using both his size and leg speed to get the Panthers on the front foot.
Canberra's clear advantage in this game is at hooker, with Josh Hodgson posing a far greater attacking threat than the far more understated Mitch Kenny. Leading the league for hookers when it comes to try assists and linebreak assists, Hodgson has a habit of sending big props crashing over close to the line and will be the key to tiring out a relentless Penrith defence.
The favourite: Penrith are unsurprisingly favourites given their 4-0 start to the season.
My tip: The Raiders have a forward pack capable of match Penrith's and a halves pairing that could test the still developing Crichton at fullback. Canberra were resolute in victory last week against the Gold Coast. Look for another low-scoring win here. Canberra by 6.