Even without halfback Greg Alexander and prop Matt Goodwin Penrith's
match with Parramatta tonight should be a case of the new blood taking over from
After 21 years in Parramatta's shadow Penrith have become the form team of
the outer western suburbs while the Eels have gone steadily backwards.
This match at Parramatta Stadium should see Penrith emerge from that
shadow, although their task has been made harder by the loss of Alexander and
Goodwin, both of whom withdrew yesterday with back injuries.
Alexander's place will be taken by the reliable Doug Delaney. Paul Akkary
will fill in for Goodwin.
Alexander's injury, sustained two weeks ago against Brisbane, cost him the
chance of selection for Australia as a replacement for Parramatta's injured
Even without Alexander's brilliance the Panthers should prove too big an
obstacle for the battered Parramatta, who are still without many key players
because of injury.
Penrith coach Ron Willey said his side faced a difficult climb towards the
semi-finals after tonight's match and next week's game with Newcastle. Penrith
play Balmain and Manly in the last two rounds.
"On form we should beat Parramatta and Newcastle, but after that we have a
real hard row to hoe," he said.
Penrith are on 26 points with Canberra, Cronulla and Canterbury and Willey
believes his team will need three more wins to guarantee a place in the
semi-finals. "It's getting to the stage where the last-round match against
Manly may decide the top three or even the minor premiership," he said.
Despite Parramatta's lowly place on the table Willey said his side would
have plenty of incentive to win the match.
"I don't think we'll need a lot of motivation," he said. "Parramatta in
years gone by have been the No 1 team and a bit like a big brother to us."
Peter Kelly's comeback from a neck injury has been put back another week.
He was selected in reserve grade but withdrew at training last night.
PARRAMATTA: D Liddiard; T Chalmers M Erickson B Jackson B Atkins; S Ella P
Taylor (capt); M Laurie P Ford G Settree M Clinton S Sharp G Bugden.
PENRITH: N Baker; D Greene G Bradley B Izzard R McNeill; C Mortimer D
Delaney; C Van der Voort M Geyer J Cartwright P Akkary R Simmons (capt) G
Gerard. Reserve: C Connor.
Balmain have lost centre Ross Conlon for Sunday's match against Wests at
Conlon will enter hospital today for an operation on a dislocated finger
and may be out for up to three weeks. His place has been taken by Michael
Manly coach Bob Fulton has not yet completed his side for Sunday's game
against Newcastle at Newcastle International Sports Centre, although he is
expected to decide on Phil Daley and Mark Brokenshire as the two front-rowers
Fulton will probably use Ian Gately and Mark Pocock as fresh reserves
while naming Jeremy Ticehurst on the wing ahead of David Ronson.
Eastern Suburbs have lost hooker David Trewhella for Sunday's match
against Cronulla at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Trewhella withdrew because of a hamstring problem and is replaced by
Trevor Gillmeister. Trevor Paterson comes into the side in the second row.
Brisbane will be without prop Greg Dowling and centre Chris Johns for
tomorrow's match against Norths at Lang Park. Canberra also have eight players
in doubt for Sunday's match against Canterbury at Seiffert Sports Ground.
Canterbury are expected to announce today the re-signing of lock Paul
Langmack, who has received offers from several other clubs.
* Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley is in doubt for next Wednesday's
match between Australia and the Rest of the World.
He has 12 stitches in a cut under his eye which he sustained during last
Sunday's rugged Test between Great Britain and New Zealand. Hanley, picked at
lock for the Rest of the World, was unable to train with the side yesterday.
A decision on his fitness will be made this weekend. There is also some
concern that the injury may prevent his joining Balmain next week.