Viliame Kikau (right) of the Panthers is tackled by the Eels' Beau Scott last Sunday.
Viliame Kikau (right) of the Panthers is tackled by the Eels' Beau Scott last Sunday. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Panthers aiming to start fast

PENRITH is determined to put an end to it slow-start rut in this afternoon's NRL clash with South Sydney.

The Panthers have led at half-time in just three of their past 10 matches, despite finishing last year's regular season on a hot streak and overcoming a 14-point deficit to down Parramatta last Sunday.

Coach Anthony Griffin wants the trend stopped immediately at Panthers Stadium.

"We slaughtered ourselves early last week with that first 15 minutes,” he n said.

"And even though we came back well and there was some credit to the players and their composure and their conditioning, we need to be better than that.

"Eventually if we keep doing that it's going to cause more problems for us. Souths are a really good side, as were Parramatta. They've got quality players all across the park and we need to start well against them.”

The momentum of last week's game changed when Kangaroos prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was brought on from the bench.

He and powerhouse Fijian second-rower Viliame Kikau (pictured) have been named in the starting line-up for Saturday, but Griffin was coy yesterday on whether they would both again come off the bench.

With the temperature set to reach to 36 degrees in the west, the Panthers could be tempted to leave Kikau to target fatigued defenders in the second half off the bench, namely rookie Rabbitohs halfback Adam Doueihi.

The Panthers are also sweating on the fitness of Kiwi centre Dean Whare, who they hope will return from a three-week recovery after a hamstring injury.

Whare was named on the Panthers' extended bench earlier this week, but could go in at left centre and push Tyrone Peachey back to the bench if declared fit.

"He's had a good week at training ... he's a possible,” Griffin said. - AAP



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