THE Manly Sea Eagles take on the Penrith Panther in the NRL’s first elimination final of 2017.
Penrith have the comfort knowing gun fullback Dylan Edwards is back from a knee injury, but Matt Moylan’s absence will be sure to hurt them as they try to get an early jump on their opponents.
Fresh rumour over Moylan’s future surfaces
Penrith star Matt Moylan may have played his last game for the Panthers after taking a strange sabbatical on the eve of finals.
The star back-liner will not be running out with his side as they attempt to thwart Manly’s premiership hopes in the first elimination final of 2017.
Rugby League journalist for The Australian Brent Read revealed the 26-year-old could be moving to the Northern Beaches next year.
“Word around the traps is Matt Moylan won’t be at Penrith next year,” he told Triple M before the match.
“I keep hearing (he could go to) Manly because there are suggestions Blake Green has an offer from the Warriors.”
Referee bungles ‘nothing short of disgraceful’
Melbourne’s 18-16 win over Parramatta this afternoon had fans singing an all too familiar chorus after the final bell.
Match referees were slammed for their “disgraceful” favouritism of the Storm as the home side pulled off a huge comeback for skipper Cameron Smith’s 356th match.
One incident in particular where Will Chambers was allowed to struggle through a 15-second play-the-ball had fans in an uproar.
NRL referees let Will Chambers take 15 seconds to play the ball & didn't deem it time wasting. #nrlstormeels— Adam Mobbs (@AdamMobbs) September 9, 2017
Well once again the refs piggy back the #storm to a victory, some absolute rubbish calls against the #eels #NRLStormEels #nrlfinals— The Bryan Madigan (@thebryanmadigan) September 9, 2017
Well the NRL got its fairytale in #Cam356 but the refereeing in #NRLStormEels was nothing short of disgraceful. Parramatta robbed cold— Matthew Taylor (@MattyA_Taylor) September 9, 2017
With officiating like that the #NRL could save the trouble and hand the trophy straight to Storm now, cut out the middle men. #NRLStormEels— Chris Bath (@CJBath) September 9, 2017
It wasn’t all in the Storm’s favour, though, with Josh Addo-Carr having his second try of the afternoon denied after putting his foot a hair into touch before running over the line in the second half.
Panthers prepare for daunting grudge match
Penrith recovered from a horror 2-7 start to the season to make the NRL finals, so coach Anthony Griffin can’t see any reason why a round 26 loss to Manly should halt their run.
The Sea Eagles and Panthers will become just the fifth teams to face each other in back-to-back weeks in the NRL era at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. So far, results are mixed.
On three occasions, the same team has won both games. Twice — Parramatta against St George Illawarra in 2009 and the Dragons against Canterbury in 2001 — the result has been overturned.
But Griffin said his team had already displayed a tonne of character to bounce back from their woeful start to the season, which showed him that a 28-12 defeat to Manly last week wouldn’t have them psychologically beaten before Saturday’s elimination final.
“From our end it’s learning from last week, but we’ve got a lot of confidence from our resilience and the form we’ve shown in the back end of this year,” Griffin said.
“Otherwise we wouldn’t be standing here talking about this game.” There have been suggestions during the week that Penrith will have an advantage from having seen Manly’s playbook first-hand while they were at their best in last week’s defeat.
But Griffin is more interested in what the young Panthers can learn about themselves, as a number of players enter only their first or second finals series.
“Obviously we’ve got to be a lot better physically,” Griffin said. “We got a real lesson in intensity and physicality from Manly last week. “Last week was finals intensity and they weren’t ready for it. So if anything they will get a lesson out of last week and what finals intensity is all about.” Meanwhile Manly coach Trent Barrett said Penrith wouldn’t be the only team ready to take an advantage out of having a close look at their eventual finals opponents.
“They’ve obviously got the best preview you can get I suppose, but so did we,” he said.
“They’ll think that they can identify a few things in our game, as will we.”
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