Penrith's problem: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'

Don’t fix what ain’t broke! It’s a simple motto that should have served them well in 2010, but former Penrith playmaker Steve Carter believes the Panthers are guilty of going away from what works best following mid-season scrutiny of their one-dimensional attack.<br><br>The mountain men – thrashed 43-18 by Wests Tigers on Sunday – have been criticised for relying too heavily on the kicking game of halfback Luke Walsh this season, with 38 of their 89 tries coming from kicks.<br><br>At one stage, following their Round 12 loss to South Sydney, they had scored a whopping 51.9 per cent of their tries from kicks. <br><br>But Carter, who played a record 242 games for the Panthers from 1998-2001, is adamant that coach Matthew Elliott is guilty of paying too much attention to the critics and has moved away from the strong defensive set-up that saw the side surge to the top of the NRL ladder only two months ago – with disastrous consequences.<br><br>“They copped a bit of criticism in regards to their attack and that must have played on their minds going into games,” Carter said. “Maybe that made them change focus and work on their attack a bit more at the expense of their defence. <br><br>“Defence was what really got them their results earlier in the year. <br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=846&amp;fixtureid=50020101007&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=bighit&amp;period=1&amp;time=880" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Luke Lewis' bruising defence against the Sharks.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=841&amp;fixtureid=50020100507&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=bighit&amp;period=1&amp;time=1000" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Michael Jennings' attacking in defence against the Broncos.</a><br><br>“It was an aggressive defence that was getting off the line, they were scrambling, they were defending two and three sets in a row on their own tryline, which not many teams can do.<br><br>“They’ve gone away from that now and I think it is because of the criticism that they can’t attack and they score all of their tries off kicks. <br><br>“Defence has been left behind. <br><br>“That’s the big difference I can see in them now over the past month or so.”<br><br>Carter insisted that there was still time for the Panthers to stop their slide, which has seen them lose five of their past six games, but urged them to return to the rock solid defensive game that typified their impressive start to the year. <br><br>Ironically, having averaged around 50 per cent of their tries being scored from kicks for much of the season, they have steadily dropped since Round 15 to just 42.7 per cent following Sunday’s loss to the Tigers – their lowest percentage of the season.<br><br>“You don’t change things that work,” Carter said. “It doesn’t matter how you score the tries and if it is from kicks, so be it.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=842&amp;fixtureid=50020100605&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=2247" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Michael Gordon doing what the Panthers do best against the Warriors.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=849&amp;fixtureid=50020101303&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=1706" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Michael Jennings score from a different style of kick altogether.</a><br><br>“But particularly coming into the semi-finals, it is defence that is going to win games. <br><br>“You’re not going to see these 30-point games so defence is what they need to focus on.”<br><br>Carter’s former Panthers team-mate and current Penrith board member Greg Alexander said that the Panthers had lost confidence with the ball in hand as a result of their recent defensive deficiencies.<br><br>“It all has a flow-on effect,” Alexander said. “If you’re attacking well, that can lead to good defence too.<br><br>“But when defence hasn’t historically been your strong point and your attack starts to struggle then things can turn sour pretty quickly.<br><br>‘They’ve tweaked things a little bit recently in attack and have tried to get their key men involved a little bit more but to be honest it all comes down to their defensive attitude.<br><br>“The Tigers weren’t great either yesterday – but our blokes struggled to contain them.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=859&amp;fixtureid=50020102307&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=try&amp;period=1&amp;time=2494" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Robert Lui score the simplest of tries against some flimsy Penrith defence.</a><br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&amp;roundid=859&amp;fixtureid=50020102307&amp;videoquality=1&amp;type=linebreak&amp;period=2&amp;time=2399" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Chris Lawrence thread his way through the Panthers in the 80th minute.</a><br><br>“The defence over the past six weeks has been awful. At the start of the year they didn’t look like the brittle Panthers of the past – but they are looking a little bit brittle now.”<br><br>All is not lost, however, according to Carter.<br><br>The Panthers remain in fourth spot on the NRL ladder and face a huge clash against struggling South Sydney at CUA Stadium this Friday night that could get their season back on track.<br><br>“The team is stacked with talent and they’ve got a good coach so I don’t see why they can’t turn things back around,” Carter said. <br><br>“They’ve got a lot of strike power so there is no issue there – we’ve seen what they can do in the past.<br><br>“And they were achieving that good defence earlier in the season so there is no doubt that they’re capable of it – it’s just a matter of getting it back in their mindset.”