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Panthers out to rattle cages

Have any other rugby league fans in the Telstra Premiership experienced their hearts race more than the Penrith Panthers' supporter base in the last six weeks?

From turning the screws against the Warriors to come from 22-points down in Round 10 to beating Newcastle after trailing 14-0 at the break – both results have proven the kick the Panthers desperately needed to revive a sluggish start.

Those two victories were rewarded with a blowout 38-0 shutout against the Bulldogs that has since put pressure on Des Hasler in Belmore.

The giant killers then stole an unlikely victory over the Canberra Raiders in Bathurst with two tries in three minutes to place further pressure on Ricky Stuart's men in the nation's capital.

Penrith could have made news that Johnathan Thurston's season was over for Cowboys fans even worse with victory in Townsville on the weekend, but a late Kyle Feldt try and Ethan Lowe conversion from the sideline halted the Panthers' momentum created in the past six weeks. 

"The week before we just got up in the dying minutes and last week we got beat so we can't say the footy gods were with us on the weekend but we take some confidence out of that as well," Panthers lock Trent Merrin said.

"Our defensive effort was outstanding but at the end of the day we still got done. It's a big battle now getting into the business end of the season and with a tough few games ahead of us they're all must win."

South Sydney are next on the Panthers' radar and if the corresponding Round 6 clash between the two sides is anything to go by, both sets of fans can expect another rollercoaster finish. 

An Adam Reynolds field goal before the siren was all that split them back in April with the Rabbitohs taking the 21-20 win. 

"We haven't looked back that far and I feel like we're a totally different team to when we played them last," Merrin said.

"We did have a tough road at the start and that Newcastle game really helped us out."

Penrith have four consecutive home games at Pepper Stadium starting in Round 20 against the Gold Coast Titans, before clashes with the Bulldogs, Wests Tigers and Cowboys.

Anthony Griffin's men also take on surprise packets Manly twice before the regular season is over, however fortunately avoid other heavyweight outfits Melbourne, Cronulla, Brisbane and the Roosters.

"We've got a few home games on the backend of that which helps us leading into the finals," Merrin said.

"We've got full confidence we can get there again but it's just about doing the right things between here and there and getting the results."

On a personal note, the 27-year-old was recalled into New South Wales game prior to Origin II as 18th man on the back of some strong form in the middle of the season.

Despite the Blues narrowly being beaten by Queensland in Game Two, the incumbent Australian lock was impressed with the progression of the side since he was overlooked for the 2016 series.

"It's always great to get back in and amongst the squad with the boys, the vibe is great and they're definitely a chance up there," he said.

"It was not the result we wanted but I have every confidence they can get the job done [in Game Three]."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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