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Top spot is up for grabs at Suncorp Stadium as the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers lock horns in one of 2021’s most keenly anticipated matches. Don’t miss a moment with our live scores page on The Roar from 4:05pm (AEST).
It was supposed to be a Saturday night blockbuster, but the Queensland government’s snap lockdown has pushed it back a day, and into the prime Channel Nine footy slot.
It’s already a 2020 grand final rematch, and the way things are going, it could easily be a 2021 grand final preview as well. These two sides have shown throughout the year that they are the standouts clubs in the NRL, and it’s difficult to see the victor being pipped for the J.J. Giltinan Shield heading into finals.
The Panthers took down the Storm in a thriller when last they met back in Round 3, but plenty has changed since then. The Panthers have several stars watching on, including co-captains Nathan Cleary (shoulder) and Isaah Yeo (concussion) plus Origin winger Brian To’o (ankle).
Meanwhile, the Storm are slowly beginning to reach full availability after a spate of mid-season injuries. Cameron Munster, Dale Finucane and Felise Kaufusi all return, while they even have the luxury of easing Ryan Papenhuyzen back into top-flight footy off the bench. Harry Grant as a reserve tells you all you need to know about the Storm’s phenomenal depth.
Given all that, it’s easy to see why Craig Bellamy’s men are firm favourites to square the ledger on the Panthers; but Ivan Cleary’s boys could easily swing a surprise and retain premiership favouritism.
1. Nicho Hynes, 2. Dean Ieremia, 3. Reimis Smith, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Jahrome Hughes, 8. Jesse Bromwich (c), 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Christian Welch, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenny Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane (c)
Bench/Reserves: 14. Aaron Pene, 15. Tui Kamikamica, 16. Chris Lewis, 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen | 18. Tom Eisenhuth, 19. Harry Grant, 20. Jordan Grant, 21. Isaac Lumelume
1. Dylan Edwards (c), 2. Charlie Staines, 3. Stephen Crichton, 4. Brent Naden, 5. Robert Jennings, 6. Matt Burton, 7. Jarome Luai, 8. Moses Leota, 9. Mitch Kenny, 10. Liam Martin, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Matt Eisenhuth
Bench/Reserves: 14. Izack Tago, 15. Scott Sorensen, 16. Spencer Leniu, 17. J’maine Hopgood | 18. Paul Momirovski, 19. Jaeman Salmon, 20. Lindsay Smith, 22. Kurt Falls