SYDNEY — Wests Tigers are going to have to improve dramatically on their first-round loss to Newcastle if they are to beat Penrith in the battle of the big cats.
The Tigers will start favourites in this match, based mainly on the fact they are playing at home, but it won't be as simple as that. They were awful against the Knights, whose big, tough forward pack dominated that game and laid the foundation for a 42-10 win at Hunter Stadium on Monday night, and they face another big, tough pack here.
Penrith made an unexpectedly strong start to the season with a 32-10 win over Canberra at Centrebet Stadium on Sunday. The Raiders, after star backs Josh Dugan and Jarrod Croker were passed fit to play, started favourites in the match, but never looked like winning after the Panthers had scored a crucial try just before halftime to go to the break with a 12-6 lead. And it was the Penrith forward pack that led the way.
The Knights dominated possession against the Tigers, finishing with a lopsided 63% of it. They made 1457 metres, compared to just 812 for the Tigers, and completed 34 of 40 sets as opposed to 18 of 27. The Panthers had 55 per cent of the ball against the Raiders, made 1462 metres against 1042 and completed 33 of 40 sets compared to 23 of 34.