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Panthers' four-man plan to stop Hayne

By Adrian Warren 23/08/2009 02:08:06 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matthew Elliott reckons he can counter the brilliance of electrifying Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne in next Friday's massive NRL western Sydney derby.

Elliott is banking on four stars - not one - doing the business for the Panthers.

The tantalising match looms as a winner-takes-all affair after Penrith climbed above their arch-rivals on for-and-against differential following their 40-10 demolition of South Sydney at CUA Stadium.

After last week's Eels-Wests Tigers match was promoted as a showdown between Hayne and Benji Marshall, there's every likelihood Friday's fixture will be seen as a showcase for Hayne and brilliant Penrith centre Michael Jennings.

Elliott admitted it was the individual brilliance of NSW Origin star Jennings which got the Panthers over the line in a spectacular 38-34 round-17 victory over Parramatta.

Jennings, who has scored 17 tries this season, bagged a hat-trick in the high-scoring affair against Parramatta.

Elliott was keen to avoid any individual head-to-head match-up going into Friday's game and emphasised the Panthers had several strike weapons, including second rowers Trent Waterhouse and Frank Pritchard, who both excelled against Souths.

"I think we've got Frank Pritchard, Trent Waterhouse, Luke Lewis and Michael Jennings, so we're not going to get into a star-off with anyone," Elliott told reporters.

"Parramatta are playing some sparkling footy at the moment, so it's going to be a big challenge for us and we want to make it a big challenge for them."

He was adamant Penrith would have to improve on the level of performance they produced in their previous win against Parramatta.

"We weren't good enough on that day. We were good enough to win but we weren't good enough for our own standards," Elliott said.

"They are playing much better now than they were then and we had a fairly depleted side that day.

"Michael Jennings scored three tries and probably made the difference individually."

Elliott humorously dismissed any fitness concerns over star utility Lewis, who was accidentally kneed in the head by Jennings.

Asked if Lewis was concussed, Elliott replied with tongue firmly in cheek "... at birth, yeah".

Skipper Waterhouse was equally unsympathetic.

"He's a bit of a drama queen, Luke," Waterhouse quipped.

The Panthers captain revealed his players had talked early last week on lifting their defensive efforts after leaking 40 second-half points against Brisbane and admitted that area of their game would be crucial against the free-scoring Eels.

"You're going to have to defend well against them because they've got plenty of firepower in their side," he said.

"So that's what we've based our game around all year - our defence - and we will be looking to step it up another notch," Waterhouse said.

He insisted Penrith were "definitely up to" the challenge of playing in the finals, but didn't want to look beyond Friday's clash.

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