The Panthers had a slow start to the season, but a late surge saw them finish the season in seventh place. They finished the year 13 wins and 11 losses going 1 game worse than the previous season (14 wins and 10 losses).
The start if the year was almost a disaster losing 7 of their first 9 games with their only wins coming over the Newcastle Knights and the Wests Tigers. However things seemed to turn around winning 7 in a row heading towards finals. This basically sums up the year they had as they struggled to play against top teams, with their only wins against a Top 8 side came against the Cowboys before the finals and Manly twice.
There was plenty of things that went right however, Nathan Cleary took another huge step forward in his development and to complement him we sure the breakout of a trio of future stars in Dylan Edwards, Tyrone May and Corey Harawira-Naera.
Edwards in particular as he changed the whole dynamic of the team with his work rate and kick returns and I can see him as a long term player for the Panthers.
Things look bright for 2018 as the Panthers conducted a “Player Swap” with the Cronulla Sharks which saw the Panthers lose Matt Moylan but brought in James Maloney. This could have the potential to be one of the best halves pairings in the NRL.
It’s always hard trying to predict how the Panthers will go, they are always predicted to do well each season but yet find some way to change that once the season starts. If the Panthers want to cause havoc this season they cannot get off to a slow start like they did in 2017. If the Panthers can consistantly win games and can show they can beat other Top 8 sides then there is no reason why they shouldn’t finish in the Top 8 and even push as high as 4th. Only time will tell however.