PENRITH’S Holden Cup side may have won straight through to this week’s preliminary final, but their reward for that is playing the minor premiers Canberra.
Penrith beat the Roosters in week one of the finals to earn a preliminary final spot but a shock loss by competition leaders Canberra to the Bulldogs meant the Raiders moved to Penrith’s side of the finals draw.
Their win last weekend set up a date with Penrith, who finished second in the minor premiership.
Panthers’ coach Garth Brennan said his team’s defence would have to be at its best to keep out the attacking Raiders outfit.
“Defence will win us the match. Our side has plenty of strike-power and can attack and score points,” Brennan said.
“At this time of the year football is all about defence, so all our energy will be going into defending well.”
Brennan is weary of the Green Machine, despite their upset loss in week one of the finals, and said his men will have to contend with players of an NRL standard if they are to reach the grand final.
“They’re a good side. They finished the competition in first place and you don’t do that by fluke,” he said.
“They’ve got really good halves, especially Mitch Cornish who will play first grade next year, I think.
“We’ll defend whatever they throw at us. I know they attack short sides really well and our right edge is going to have to defend well.”
One bonus for the Panthers is playing the Raiders at Allianz Stadium.
Canberra sides historically don’t travel too well but Brennan said it wouldn’t make too much of a difference at this time of the year.
“It’s pleasing to play them here but at the end of the day we’ve still got to execute well and turn up with the right attitude,” he said.
The match kicks off at 5.15pm on Saturday.