Anyway, how the two teams will line up tonight is kind of anybodies guess, with the Sydney press predicting Matt Elliot to bring in some serious youth for tonight's contest. The official teams at this stage look like this:
Penrith: Wesser, Rooney, Jennings, Tighe, Sammut, Blair, Lewis, Bell, Peters, Civoneciva, Pritchard, Waterhouse, Smith [Aiton, Grant, Moors, Rodney]
St George: Morris, Nightingale, Gasnier, Cooper, Morris, Soward, Hornby, Poore, Young, Ryles, Scott, Creagh, Webb [Setu, Hunt, Stanley, Chase]
From the Panthers, word is that there will be a few changes to the current side, Aiton is likely out to be replaced with teenage wunderkind Masada Iosefa. Tony Puletua could return and would likely displace Moors. Finally, another potential superstar from the junior ranks Wade Graham could make his long awaited debut in place of Blair.
From the Dragons side of things there is not a lot of news. No news being great for them all players are passed to play.
The dragons are winners of their last four starts. And for that reason they have come up pretty short in this contest at $1.33. (N.B. The Dragons have started favourite in every game since 1988. Check it, it's a FACT) If you have a look at those four wins though, it has been a fairly motley group that they have beaten. Melbourne without their 46 origin players. Brisbane without the 32 origin players*, South Sydney without all of their origin players. One solid win came against Manly. Though the Manly side that week played with 12 men. In one of the greatest pieces of ineptitude ever to come out of a coaching box, Anthony Watmough played 80 straight minutes of this game - 75 of these with a massive concussion. Des Hasler doesn't change his game plan for something as minor as a life threatening medical condition.
Also remember that the Dragons will be without the greatest player of the modern era "DEL" this week. His badly dismembered face has meant that he cannot play football, model, or ingest cocaine in the manner of his choosing. Bad time to be DEL!
The Panthers were terrible last week against the Roosters. To some extent that can be forgiven by the fact that most of that game Penrith carried a one man bench. Otherwise, there have been some serious signs of life in Penrith this year, and the infusion of youth could be critical.
Anyway, there is an axiom in regards to my punting on football. Never back St George at odds like those on offer here. The St George hype machine is back in full force. Don't buy into it.
Penrith will cause the St George outside backs nightmares down the Jennings/Rooney flank as both of these players have hit some very solid form. As such, I will throw $50 on a Panthers win at $3.40 and $50 on a Rooney try at $2.25.
You can catch this game in NSW live at 7:30 on channel 9. Things to watch out for in the telecast:
1) Gould's man love for Ben Creagh and its ability to make you physically ill.
2) Gould going on FOR HOURS about how unfair it is that Nathan Brown has lost his job for next year and is still coaching.
3) The Broncos are playing tonight. Lucky you, no Ben Ikin!