Canberra chill may dampen Panthers’ sizzle

It may be September but it’s still bloody cold in Canberra.

And coach Anthony Griffin concedes that could prevent Penrith being as flamboyant as they were in week one of the NRL finals.

The Panthers are still riding high from their elimination final win over Canterbury – their sixth victory in a row heading into Saturday’s semi-final with the Raiders in the nation’s capital.

Their expansive style has earned them plaudits for being one of the competition’s most exciting teams, averaging 33 points a match over the past six weeks.

But the warm spring weather they enjoyed against the Bulldogs in Sydney won’t be there at GIO Stadium.

There’s a 40 per cent chance of showers in the evening, while temperatures are expected to drop as low as two degrees.

“We understand it’s not going to be a real flat and fast track like it was last week but we’re at the stage of the year where no matter what the conditions you’ve got to be able to do the job,” Griffin said on Friday.

“The game will probably close down a little bit on what we were used to last weekend where we had a nice warm, Sunday afternoon in Sydney.

“That’ll be the challenge for us: to adjust to the conditions because the Raiders are obviously used to those.”

To ensure his side was prepared for the potentially dewy ground, coach Ricky Stuart scheduled a training session under lights on Wednesday night.

It didn’t exactly go to plan, though, with rookie Clay Priest slipping and breaking his ankle – ruling him out for the season.

His spot on the bench is likely to be filled by either Jeff Lima or Paul Vaughan.

The Panthers have had better luck with injury, having not had to change their line-up this past month.

The stability has yielded good results and instilled plenty of confidence, according to Griffin.

Part of that has been driven by fullback Matt Moylan, who the coach said had been leading from the front in recent weeks.

“He’s getting a lot of touches of football but he’s had very little error in him and that’s been key for us,” he said.

“Matt’s a big part of our structure in attack but he’s a leader there and his calming influence on the other guys has been very strong.”

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