- Stewart Moses
The Final Word: Round 2 v Wests Tigers
Welcome to Campbelltown Sports Stadium where its Round Two action between Penrith and the Wests Tigers.
Its just two rounds into season 2017 but there is already plenty of pressure on the former competition favorites to rebound from last week's unexpected but below-par performance against St George-Illawarra.
Viliame Kikau becomes Panther #567 this afternoon. Credit 77 Media.
But it won't be easy given the distractions associated with the issues that were rightly or wrongly brought to the media's attention surrounding Bryce Cartwright.
The Panthers also have to deal with well-known early season high-flyers Wests Tigers.
The Tigers fresh form playing an entertaining brand of footy that carved up an Inglis-hampered Souths side in the wet last Friday night, will enjoy the rather hot and dry conditions Campbelltown has to offer where temperatures are set to reach the mid 30's.
In team news Penrith have handed a NRL debut to Fijian prop Viliame Kikau (567) and is joined on the bench by former Tiger, Sitaleki Akauola, replacing Moses Leota (ISP) and Tim Browne (injury).
For the Wests Tigers, former Panther Tim Grant comes off the bench, replaced by Joel Edwards.
Sitaleki Akauola returns to face his former club. Credit: 77 Media
In the lower grades, its been all Penrith.
In ISP, Penrith overcame the pre-game loss of Michael Oldfield, Mitch Rein, Viliame Kikau and Oliver Clark to record a convincing 52-12 win to remain undefeated after two rounds.
While in Holden Cup, new coach David Tangata-Toa celebrated his first win in his second stint as coach, with a 36-4 win over the Tigers.
Penrith will be looking to avoid their fifth loss in a row at Campbelltown having not won here since 2008, but have an overall 17-12 record over the Tigers.
In some other interesting stats, Waqa Blake if he scores here today will have scored in his eighth consecutive game, beating the record he currently shares with Rhys Wesser.
While for the Tigers, James Tedesco has scored against all NRL clubs EXCEPT Penrith.
Will Penrith win today? Time will tell today but its expected to be a fast open and possibly high scoring game here at Campbelltown and the Panthers will need to lift their intensity especially in defence if they are to come away with the two competition points.