Eels aim to strike down ailing Panthers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels aim to strike down ailing Panthers

By Steve Jancetic 03/07/2009 06:09:19 PM Comments (0)

Penrith are wounded and western Sydney rivals Parramatta are ready to pounce after placing a bullseye on the Panthers' spot in the NRL top eight.

Parramatta, three points behind the eighth-placed Panthers, head to CUA Stadium on Sunday knowing their finals fate still rests in their own hands.

Lose and they can just about kiss goodbye any hope of playing finals football, while victory could see the Eels finish round 17 just one competition outside the eight.

"It's one of those games where you know if you're going to mount any challenge towards the playoffs you have to beat teams that are above you and especially ones that are, if you want, vulnerable to be knocked out of the eight," Eels coach Daniel Anderson.

"We can't do that yet but we can go part way towards building more momentum if we can get the job done on Sunday."

Centre Joel Reddy said motivation would not be difficult to find.

"They're a team that's still in the eight - they're going to want to hold that spot there," Reddy said.

"For us to make the eight, someone's going to have to drop out so it's about beating teams that are ahead of us."

Having surged into finals reckoning with five wins from six matches, the Panthers are now struggling following back-to-back losses and a worrying injury toll.

Captain Petero Civoniceva and NSW backrower Luke Lewis are likely to be sidelined until just before the finals.

NSW centre Michael Jennings returns, but the Eels know Penrith are vulnerable without Civoniceva and Lewis, who are both out with toe injuries.

The only problem for Parramatta is backing up after last week's win over Brisbane - the Eels having managed two straight wins only once this season.

But Anderson said he was confident his side had rectified its early season problems, particularly at the defensive end.

"Anyone who sees us says that we are a team that are fighting and scrapping a bit more than we were at the start of the year and we're more difficult to score against and we're more difficult to beat," he said.

"I think we're a much more honest team at the moment ... if you're an honest team across the board you are difficult to play against.

"I didn't think we were honest enough at the start of the year and hence we conceded soft tries.

"We don't concede soft tries (any more), teams have got to work for them."

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