Penrith defy critics with surge to top of NRL table

Matt Moylan and Kevin Naiqama celebrate during their 35-34 home win over the Brisbane Broncos.Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Matt Moylan and Kevin Naiqama celebrate during their 35-34 home win over the Brisbane Broncos.Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

Can Penrith win the premiership?

Nah, still don't think so.

However, they certainly earned some respect with the way they beat Brisbane.

The real tests of their title chances are still to come, starting on Saturday against the Roosters.

The Panthers were without Peter Wallace, and Josh Mansour and Tyrone Peachey were injured, but still held off a couple of Broncos comebacks to win.

The secret to their success is not making many mistakes and some of their unheralded players are doing a great job.

Guys like Jeremy Latimore and Nigel Plum work tirelessly through the middle and Matt Moylan is an absolute star.

If the Panthers are still alive well into September, it's guaranteed Moylan will have a big part to play.

Still, there's a few teams yet to show their hand; premiers Roosters are one of them.

They'll finish the season with a wet sail, starting this weekend against the Panthers.

They put the cue in the rack leading against the Sharks and will still be embarrassed about losing to them, which should spark them into action.

The team to beat is Manly but the Bulldogs are showing what they're all about, overcoming the Storm down in Melbourne.

Their defensive efforts were outstanding and will serve them well when it counts come finals time.

Are the Bulldogs still lacking one match-winning outside back?

Probably, yeah.

However, Mitch Brown showed he is an underrated player in the NRL and playing well at fullback.

The Dogs' close 6-4 win also showed the Storm are anything but a spent force in the NRL.

With State of Origin over, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk - after overcoming a broken arm - will ensure no-one will want to meet Melbourne when it matters in September.

- - - -

If the Dragons sign Wayne Bennett, expect the offers for Paul McGregor to roll in.

Mary always said he wouldn't want to be with another club after he spent his career with the Dragons and Steelers.

But for the right offer, his talents may belong elsewhere.

Let's get this straight: he's not just a good bloke, he's a great coach.

Times change.

If Bennett comes to the club, McGregor is too valuable as an asset in the NRL to not have a role, even if it means it's not at the Dragons.

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