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Soward hails Penrith's kicking depth

Ian McCullough AAP Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Penrith star Jamie Soward says Parramatta's woes in front of goal show the importance of NRL clubs having a group of quality goal-kicking options.

With Soward struggling with a back issue and Peter Wallace sidelined with a groin injury, Matt Moylan undertook the duties against Canterbury on Saturday and converted three from four efforts, including the match-winning sideline conversion on the siren.

In contrast the Eels, who were denied a deserved win over Manly at Brookvale on Sunday following a last-minute try by Steve Matai, saw Joseph Paulo miss three efforts at goal.

The back-rower's one success was from in front of the postsbut his other attempts never looked in any danger of raising the flags.

Parramatta have now missed eight kicks from 13 attempts in their first three games, with Corey Norman and Paulo looking far from convincing when standing behind the tee.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has employed New Zealand goalkicking great Daryl Halligan to work with Moylan, Soward and Wallace, and the former St George Illawarra five-eighth said the hard work had paid off.

"It's a real strength of ours, you saw yesterday with Parramatta and their goalkicking just what an important part of the game it is but we work hard on it," Soward said.

"It's a thankless job and you are expected to kick every goal and Matty kicked fantastic on the weekend.

"But as a group, 'Wal', myself and Matty, we do work hard with Daryl. When injuries happen like they have to us, it's good to know we still have a confident kicker.

"I've had a bit of back tightness and I didn't goalkick in the week but because Matty has been kicking them well I knew we'd be fine."

Despite his back issue Soward played the full 80 minutes and impressed against the Bulldogs, having sat out the narrow defeat to Melbourne seven days earlier.

The former NSW playmaker produced a beautifully-executed cut-out pass that set up the the decisive try for Kevin Naiqama in the final minute and the 29-year-old is revelling in his new surroundings following an acrimonious exit from the Dragons last year, that led to short stint with the London Broncos.

"I'd had a long pre-season and obviously the Super League isn't as competitive as the NRL, but it's not a huge problem," he said.

"I am heaps more relaxed. I guess it's because I can go out and play footy and not have to come up with anything extra on the field.

"I am really enjoying being part of the team."