Improving Panthers still stalking finals

Dubbo product Isaah Yeo gets the ball away despite pressure from Tigers captain Aaron Wood on Sunday. Photo: AAP IMAGE/ CRAIG GOLDING

Dubbo product Isaah Yeo gets the ball away despite pressure from Tigers captain Aaron Wood on Sunday. Photo: AAP IMAGE/ CRAIG GOLDING

Dubbo junior Isaah Yeo believes the Penrith Panthers still have plenty of improvement left in them as they mount their campaign to be part of the NRL finals series.

The Panthers have been below expectations in 2017.

Their hard-fought victory against the West Tigers on Sunday got them into the top eight but the Dragons and Raiders remain in striking distance with four games left in the regular season.

The Panthers were far from convincing as they beat the Tigers 28-14 at their home ground Pepper Stadium. They lead 10-8 at half-time and 16-14 after an hour, but two tries in the final five minutes gave them some breathing space.

Yeo admitted the game wasn’t the best and said the men in black needed to work on their fifth tackle options in attack and defence 

“The try they scored on half-time wasn’t ideal and could have deflated a few other teams but we came out in second half,” Yeo said in a press conference on Monday.

“I thought we completed well for 20-30 minutes and to come out on top of them was nice. A few late tries put it to bed.

“There’s a few things to work on...which if we fix up will put us in good stead next week but it was just a really good way to win.”

The Panthers sit in eighth place, two points clear of the Dragons and four ahead of the Raiders. They were helped on the weekend by the struggling Knights, who upset the Dragons but Yeo said it was still close.

“It doesn’t mean much, we verse Dragons in a few weeks, the Raiders are still vying for a position, and Manly, we’re all fighting for the same spots,” the second rower said.

“We were getting written off six weeks ago. We don’t read too much into that, we’re a very confident group in house. We’ve got all the belief in ourselves, individually and as a team, so we will just see how we go in the next month or so.”

But the Panthers are getting better, Yeo said, and have more improvement in them.

“I think we are just scratching the surface. At the moment we are finding a way to win and not playing our best football so that’s pretty pleasing,” he said.

“Obviously there are a few things to work on, the fifth play options and executing a bit better.”

Asked why he thought the Panthers had been slow to reach their best, Yeo said the team weren’t matching it with teams in the early rounds.

“We didn’t start like we wanted to, we might have been reading into the hype a bit too much but apart form that I didn’t think we’d been too bad to be honest,” he said.

The expected return of Matt Moylan from injury this week against the Cowboys and Trent Merrin in the coming weeks will be an additional boost for the Panthers, Yeo said.

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