PENRITH Panthers coach Ivan Cleary believes a repeat performance from last round's scrappy success won't be enough to get past the Newcastle Knights at Carrington Park this Saturday - a team he calls the form side of the NRL across the opening two weeks.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
The Bathurst venue plays host to a top-of-the-table NRL clash for the first time this Saturday night as the Panthers and Knights each look to maintain a perfect record through three rounds.
Panthers took a step back in last week's 20-16 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons, and they've now lost Liam Martin with a leg injury while Nathan Cleary and James Fisher-Harris also remain out.
Cleary said his Panthers have already had to work with a rotating squad over the opening two rounds and that adaptability has to come to the fore again at the Bathurst game.
"We're really happy with the first round but last game was a bit patchy," he said.
"We started off the game well but that second half we weren't overly thrilled about.
"That can be part and parcel sometimes in the early rounds when you're trying to get your game together. We've had a few injuries here and there, which has led to our team changing, and we're coming up against the form team of the competition, really.
"Marto's played 80 minutes in both games and has been really good. We've got star power missing this week but that gives opportunity to others and that's always good, especially for the guys who have worked hard over the pre-season.
"That does present a challenge for us against Newcastle, who have been really good so far."
Knights come to Bathurst on the back of a 26-4 success over Wests Tigers.
Cleary said ball security this Saturday will go some way towards taking the sting out of the Knights' promising attack.
"Knights playing with a lot of energy and they're moving the ball a lot and are asking a lot of questions there. There's a real vibe at the moment with what they're doing at the moment," he said.
"Our ball control in the second half last week against the Dragons was poor and that let them back into it. Essentially we need to make sure that we get our house in order then we can be competitive."
The Panthers coach also said he's been thankful for the support given by the Bathurst community since they've begun their annual pilgrimage to Carrington Park.
"We love coming to Bathurst. We like to think that it's an extension of our Panthers community. We've been coming out here for a while now and we feel like the crowd and community are getting more and more behind us each year," he said.
"We're looking forward to hearing them in full voice on Saturday."
Kick-off between the Panthers and Knights at Carrington Park will be at 3pm.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.