Panthers must fortify defence: Elliott - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Panthers must fortify defence: Elliott

By Ed Jackson 17/07/2009 05:07:44 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matt Elliott says a continuation of his team's defensive woes against Canberra on Saturday will prove costly for the NRL club.

The Panthers have conceded 70 points from their past two games, a loss to South Sydney last weekend and a victory over Parramatta in their last home game where they gave up 34 points.

But Elliott says a repeat of that defensive effort against the Eels when the Raiders visit CUA Stadium on Saturday would see a much different result.

"I always felt pretty good about that game even though it was chopping and changing," Elliott told AAP.

"We're certainly going to have to defend better in this game, if we don't ... it won't be close."

Elliott received a timely boost on Thursday night when NSW backrower Trent Waterhouse was cleared of a contrary conduct charge arising from Wednesday's fiery Origin finale in Brisbane.

It means the forward will take on the Raiders, a crucial inclusion with Luke Lewis, Frank Pritchard and captain Petero Civoniceva all missing from the Panthers' pack due to injury.

"Luke Lewis and Frank Pritchard are certainly difficult holes to fill in," Elliott said.

"But you've got to look at the other side of it, it creates some opportunities for some younger guys to get some field time and what we need them to do is perform at the highest possible level.

"Obviously getting Michael Jennings, Trent Waterhouse and Mick Gordon back into the line-up, that doesn't sound like a lot of people, but it certainly changes the dynamics of our team.

"We're allowed to take an approach that suits us better."

With Penrith sitting eighth on the ladder, Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese says there can be no doubt in his team-mate's minds about the importance of Saturday's clash.

Canberra are 12th after their loss to Newcastle last weekend, four points behind the Panthers, and Campese acknowledged time was running out for them to make a finals push.

"There's starting to be a few games in between eighth spot and us," Campese told AAP.

"We've got to start getting a few wins and they're the closest team."

Campese said the game had an added edge with the Raiders keen to make up for an 18-10 home loss to the Panthers in round eight this year.

"We've got one to get back on them because they beat us here at home," he said.

"Hopefully we can go up there with the right attitude and beat them at their home ground."

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