[2023] WCC Panthers v Saints - Game Day Thread

2023 WCC Penrith Panthers v St Helens Saints

Game Day Information

:rugby_football: Match Penrith Panthers v St Helens Saints
:stadium: Venue Bluebet Stadium, Penrith NSW
:clock10: Time Saturday 18th February 2023 6:50pm
:tickets: Tickets Tickets via Ticketek.
:stadium: Gates Open Gate Opens 4:20pm
:rugby_football: Other Matches NSW Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters 4:25pm
:sun_behind_rain_cloud: Weather :cloud_with_lightning: Thunderstorms 31°C (:cloud_with_rain: Chance of Rain: 34 / :wind_face: Wind: NE 14km/h)
:tv: Broadcast :tv: Fox League (Channel 502) [LIVE]
:desktop_computer: NRL Live Pass [LIVE]
:kayo: Kayo Sports [LIVE]

:rugby_football: Telstra Premiership | Full Time

Penrith Panthers 12 Tries Izack Tago, Brian To’o.
Goals Nathan Cleary (2/2)
St Helens Saints 13 Tries Jack Welsby, Konrad Hurrell.
Goals Tommy Makinson (2/3), FG Lewis Dodd (1)

:rugby_football: Knock On Effect NSW Cup | Full Time

Penrith Panthers 28 Tries Daeon Amituanai, Preston Riki, Liam Henry, Hayden Bonnano, Tomas Jenkins.
Goals Kurt Falls (4/5)
Sydney Roosters 4 Tries

Postmatch Media






Penrith Panthers St Helens Saints
Stephen Crichton 1 Fullback 1 Jack Welsby
Taylan May 2 Wing 2 Tommy Makinson
Izack Tago 3 Centre 3 Will Hopoate
Sunia Turuva 4 Centre 4 Mark Percival
Brian To’o 5 Wing 5 Jonathan Bennison
Jarome Luai 6 Five-Eighth 6 Jonny Lomax
Nathan Cleary © 7 Halfback 7 Lewis Dodd
Moses Leota 8 Forward 8 Alex Walmsley
Mitch Kenny 9 Hooker 9 James Roby
James Fisher-Harris 10 Forward 10 Matty Lees
Luke Garner 11 Second Row 11 Sione Mata’utia
Zac Hosking 12 Second Row 12 Joe Batchelor
Isaah Yeo © 13 Lock 13 Morgan Knowles
Jack Cogger 14 Interchange 14 Joey Lussick
Matt Eisenhuth 15 Interchange 15 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
Spencer Leniu 16 Interchange 16 Curtis Sironen
Jaeman Salmon 17 Interchange 17 Agnatius Paasi
Lindsay Smith 18 Interchange 18 Jake Wingfield
Kurt Falls 19 Reserve 19 James Bell
Liam Henry 20 Reserve 20 Daniel Norman
Tom Jenkins 21 Reserve 21 Ben Davies
Mavrik Geyer 22 Reserve 22 Sam Royle
Reserve 23 Konrad Hurrell
Reserve 24 Lewis Baxter
Reserve 25 Tee Ritson
Reserve 26 Daniel Hill
Ivan Cleary HC Coach HC Paul Wellens
Perter Wallace AC Coach AC Laurent Frayssinous
Ben Garnier AC Coach AC Ian Talbot

Match Officials

World Club Challenge
Referee Ashley Klein
Sideline Official Darian Furner
Dave Munro
Video Referee Chris Butler

:mega: Kickoff has been changed to 6:50pm due to concerns over players welfare and the heat.



No Peach or Dylan E are they injured?

Don’t think Peachey will make top 17.

It’s reported that Dylan is managing a minor niggle & Martin has shoulder injury & that both are not in doubt for Rnd 1. Scott Sorenson is also out, but no reason was reported.

Thanks for the update MrWalker….u r right The Peach probs not top 17 when all r fit and well but he will be useful during SOO and I’m a bit bias as he was one of my favorite players during his first stint at Panthers. Looking forward to another good season…Lets go panthers.:grinning:

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I am not sure what’s the go with Peach or Sorrenson. Also for that matter Blacker or C.Smith

Non of them played in the trials last week, nor has their been mention of resting or injury (as per Edwards and Martin),

That said a good side and extended bench

A large thunderstorm has passed through which thankfully has dropped the current temperature to around 28 degrees, albeit with higher humidity

Anyone going to the game, I suggest double checking your tickets are downloaded. I had to re-download mine, maybe due to the changed game start time.

Hoping for a great game with no injuries.

Panthers by 8 in a close one

Did we really need to put on English weather to make them feel at home?

well that was disappointing and i know its only game 1 of a very long season but Gardner and Hosking are very pedestrian second rowers and we missed Api and his guile.
Our forwards made no impact on the other mob and didn’t allow Cleary and Luai any room albeit both of them were quiet at best.

We deeply missed Edwards ar FB

Game 1 but lots to ponder about what is ahead and more of a concern is where will our points come from in attack if our forwards perform like that.

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I thought we looked off the pace & out of sync all night. It might have been a good idea to give those players half a game against Parra last week. To get it as close as we did, under those circumstances shows how far ahead we would be in a regular game.

Credit to St Helens, they took their opportunities & made us pay for our mistakes.


Congratulations to Saint Helens, they deserve every accolade, they certainly were the better team on the night.

We were rusty, and I agree 20-30 minutes of trial last week would have made a difference.

Tago was probably our best on field.

I don’t know if Crighton is seeking an early release to the dogs, but that performance was diabolical. Easily the worst performance on the field. It’s undeniable that he is not a first grade fullback, reminded me of Waqa Blake in how he played. We missed Edwards big time. Good luck with your 900k fullback Gus.

The weather was crazy.

Will be a different team I hope when we take on the broncos, with Edwards, Martin, Sorensen to return.


a couple of other oberservations from the game

its is very clear the St Helens Coach and Brains trust did an awful lot of work in preparation for the game and had fabulous tactics along with the most important factor, had buy in from his team in executing those tactics.

Panthers on the other hand didn’t appear to have any strategy.

for example when Cleary kicked to their rushing defence and we scored i thought he we go, they have worked out how to break them down but after that try it was back to kick bomb on every 5th tackle.

Worst of all our forwards made little to no impact on their pack and we appeared to be hustled.

Crichton was always only a stop gap FB but why is it we have to use him at FB when Edwards is out, haven’t we got another 1 in the club who can stand in?

A tip to Kenny and again with Lenui but especially Kenny, spend less time spreading your arms trying to get some advantage from the ref…use this time instead of flapping your wings to use your brain to prepare your next move.

And i agree, we should have run some of our mob even if for only 30 minutes against Parra last week to get some game time into their legs.

Although that probably wasn’t our issue last night…i think it was tactics and a bad game from a few players.

Like i said, game 1 in a very long season but its clear already losing Api and Kikau may be a concern but there is another who we may be missing we haven’t discussed and as the weeks unfold it may become even more evident and that is Ciraldo.

Cleary the coach is going to have to show Ciraldo was a student not a teacher.

Time will uncover this truth.


:rugby_football: Knock On Effect NSW Cup | Full Time

Penrith Panthers 28 Tries Daeon Amituanai, Preston Riki, Liam Henry, Hayden Bonnano, Tomas Jenkins.
Goals Kurt Falls (4/5)
Sydney Roosters 4 Tries


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I decided not to post anything getting back from the rain (a hot shower and a change into dry clothes was first on the agenda) as I didn’t want to say anything without thinking it through.

Firstly… congratulations to St Helens, they played to the conditions and they found ways to frustrate the Panthers attack.

After the game I seen a few conversations and posts on social platforms about Mitch Kenny which I don’t agree with, it made me wonder if we were watching the same game. Yes, his delivery was different to Api, but that isn’t news to us, we saw this last season. I think he delivery was fine, and there were a fair few probing attacks (5), and for run metres (in both from dummy half and in total) he outpaced his opposite from St Helens.

I think the value of Jaeman Salmon is understated. I think he was one of the standouts last night, when the side needed to make some metres and get up the field he was there to deliver, he was moved around a lot positionally (as a utility does) and performed as needed. I know he signed a 1 year contract extension, my suggestion to management it make it a bit longer.

…and now the part I put off last night… Crichton.

I don’t know how to put into words how poorly he played last night. I don’t know what was running through his head, or what kind of state he was in, but in my memory, it would have to be the worst performance I have seen him put in. Despite the weather, and despite playing out position (or what is is preferred position according to some sources) there was no excuse for the effort he put in. On the way back from the game I went through the side and gave them each a rating out of 5. I decided to not rate Crichton as I think 1 would have been too generous.

I know its a trial… and I shouldn’t take too much away from this, but if Crichton signed with the Bulldogs because it was his dream to play Fullback, I say he should keep dreaming as I don’t think he would even rank into the top 10 Fullbacks in the NRL anytime soon. I don’t think he will be in the #1 jumper for Penrith again this year, I can think of 3 or 4 players that could slot in ahead of him.

Edwards value to the team is getting them on the front foot in attack, putting on metres early in the set and getting the opposition defensive line on the back foot. Crichton wasn’t even close to getting us on the front foot, even on the occasions where he had space to make a long return, he would run about half way and start to crab across the field. Don’t get me wrong Crichton is a fine centre, but is no Fullback.

Dare I say it… but if Edwards was back there we probably could have come away with the win. Not to say Crichton lost it for us (not the case at all), but we really missed Edwards last night.


I let a days worth of thought before posting this, but have determined it was not the emotion from the loss but fact.

Crighton’s deficiencies:

He had a low miss tackle score because he wasn’t in place to make tackles, his side to side movement in defence is poor to say the least. Is this that he can’t read the game, or couldn’t be bothered?

His kick return and carry of the ball frustrated myslef and others in the crowd no end. Carrying the ball one handed like he is Michael Jordon, yes that’s great for ball security as the last minute of the game showed. His stupid pause and goose step each and every time he runs, giving the defense time to close up. Finally there was a a kick return late in the game, with the defense coming at him at an angle. Instead of running to the path of least resistance and with that angle, making 30-40 metres, he turns back in to the closest defender with his stupid slow skipping motion.

He was also rolled onto his back in almost every tackle.

Finally his slow passing. We all know he is renowned for lack of passing as a centre, but as a fullback last nights when he stood in the line, he paused after catching the ball, when a quick spread was required. I think in his mind he must consider draw and pass the only skill he has, even when it’s not called for.

Ok, this might be a bit harsh, and sure it unknown if Edwards would of won us the game, but one thing for sure we wouldn’t be directing the comments above against Edwards.

I thought Salmon played well also, and liked what I saw from Lindsay Smith. Spencer gave it a real good dig. That’s 3/4 bench spots for mine, presuming Sorensen starts in the second row.

Garner and Hosking both seemed pretty ordinary.

I though Kenny did ok, as did Cogger when he came on. Yes our hookers where different, but not the cause of the loss.

Our starting props were rusty, Critta awful, two ordinary edge forwards, and Jerome looked asleep most the game. We also were running into the wind both halves with the storm turning around.

St Helen’s played out of their skin and deserve every accolade. Rugby League was the winner in the end.

But I see no need to panic, round one will be a different side, and most now have a tough game under their belt to give match fitness and battle hardness.

Kudos to both coaches and captains for being magnanimous in victory / defeat.

Glad I was there to witness it, it may well have been a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Also many thanks to the Saints fans who attended the game. You made the atmosphere great for some ordinary weather.

A big surprise of the night, was the contingent of Leeds fans who had travelled from the UK hoping to see the Panthers beat their arch rivals St Helen’s. Wow that’s some devotion.


Only saw the highlights but I cannot imagine Ivan spent a sleepless night - at the end of the day it was pre-season. From memory last pre-season Eels shaded us 36-0; the rest is history.


This was the final piece in our trophy cabinet, and we had a very strong side only missing two players so it was more then your trial game. Crazy how St. Helen’s is the best team in the world.

Re the Critter comms, all I will say is he is unfit, not in the lean looking sense but the fitness. He is way too heavy up top and it showed.

To quote Jake the Muss - “Too much weights, not enough speed work”

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Skipping leg day ay?