The red pen had been put through Penrith’s 2019 NRL season two months ago, but a six-game winning streak has them inside the Top 8 going into Round 18.

The Penrith Panthers opened the 2019 NRL season by losing eight of their first ten games

They were diabolical, showing no signs of improvement, and holding the wooden spoon at the end of Round 10.

Fast-forward six weeks and they’ve rattled off six wins in a row to be 8-8 and inside the Top 8 heading into the final third of the regular season. As a result, the markets have shifted and now present some interesting value.

Penrith’s price for the premiership is in from $51 to $23 while the $4 to make the Top 8 two months ago is into $2.10.

The Right Run At The Right Time

First of all, a win is a win.

They’re all worth two competition points no matter who you play and when.

However, the Panthers have been a little lucky.

After beating the Eels in Round 11, the Panthers beat the Sea Eagles without Daly Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevic brothers, the Roosters without Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Rabbitohs without Adam Reynolds and the Burgess brothers, an awful Warriors outfit, and the wooden spoon-holding Titans.

There is no denying that it’s a friendly run. You can’t deny the 12 points the Panthers have picked up either, though. They’ve dealt with injuries and Origin outs themselves to make the most of it and now have a chance to feature in September.

NRL Stat Standings

There are some holes in the six-game winning streak, but if that doesn’t paint the picture, Penrith’s numbers up to Round 17 might.

Per Game AverageNRL Rank
Points14.915th
Tries2.315th
Completion Rate71%16th
Linebreaks2.913th
Running Metres1,531m15th
Errors12.114th
Handling Errors11.415th
Missed Tackles40.316th

 

Those…aren’t great numbers.

They’re certainly not the collection of statistics a team regularly carries into the NRL finals.

Averaging just 14.9 points per game this year, the Panthers have managed more than 20 points only twice. Both of those came against the Titans who rank 14th in defence. By coughing up the ball so often and putting themselves under more pressure through their NRL-leading 40.3 missed tackles per game, the Panthers don’t give themselves many opportunities to improve.

Nevertheless, they’re a Top 8 side two-thirds of the way through the season.

The Final Third

Where that six-week schedule against depleted teams really pays dividends is in Penrith’s remaining draw. With so many of the teams ahead of them on the ladder out of the way already, the Panthers only play three current Top 8 sides over the final eight weeks of the regular season.

Round 18: Dragons – 14th
Round 19: Raiders – 3rd
Round 20: @ Bulldogs – 15th
Round 21: Sharks – 9th
Round 22: @ Broncos – 13th
Round 23: @ Cowboys – 10th
Round 24: @ Roosters – 4th
Round 25: Knights 7th

With the Storm ($3.25), Roosters ($3.35) and Rabbitohs ($5.50) the three teams expected to battle it out for the premiership, the Panthers $23 isn’t all that appealing.

The $2.10 to make the Top 8 is worth looking into, though. If the Panthers can win five of their last eight games, they’ll more than likely retain their current 8th spot on the NRL ladder. Splitting them 4-4 might also be enough if other results go their way.

While the winning streak says one thing, where the Panthers rank statistically says another.

Can they be trusted to kick on and into the finals from here?

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