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|17||T. P. Junior|
Round 25 continues tonight when the Parramatta Eels take on the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 8:05pm (AEST).
With the semi-finals just around the corner, the approaches of Brad Arthur and Ivan Cleary could not be more different. Arthur has left out a number of key Eels players, whilst Cleary is holding onto hopes of another minor premiership, going in at close to full strength.
Only the most one-eyed Eels supporter would have predicted their win over the Storm last weekend. Flat or not, the Storm couldn’t match it with the intensity of the Eels, and the 22-10 scoreline was a fair reflection of their dominance.
While Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson were much improved, Junior Paulo was back to his damaging best, and dragged the Parramatta pack along with him.
There’s no Paulo for this game after he was hit with a one-game suspension; and on top of that, Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, Dylan Brown, Waqa Blake, Isaiah Papali’i and Nathan Brown are being rested. Marata Niukora has also been ruled out after suffering a head knock.
After a mid-season slump, the Panthers appear to be running into form at the right time of the season. They eased out to a 30-6 lead against the Tigers last week before letting in a couple of late tries.
Tevita Pangai Jnr impressed in his first game for the club, whilst James Fisher-Harris and Brian To’o have made good returns from injury. While Nathan Cleary made some uncharacteristic errors, the Panthers may have timed their run perfectly this year, with the captain sure to inch closer to his best with every passing week.
Spencer Leniu has made his return from an ankle injury, but has been named in the reserves, in a sign of the strength at Ivan Cleary’s disposal. He may still get a run should any late misfortune strike, however.
We were hoping to get a semi-final preview this week with two of the top sides looking for the psychological edge. Unfortunately, we won’t get it, with the Eels resting a host of certain starters should they make it to the last six.
The Panthers are employing a different approach and should come out big winners.
Penrith Panthers by 28
1. Hayze Perham 2. Haze Dunster 3. Tom Opacic 4. Michael Oldfield 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Will Smith (c) 7. Jakob Arthur 8. Oregon Kaufusi 9. Joey Lussick 10. Makahesi Makatoa 11. Bryce Cartwright 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Ray Stone
Interchange: 14. Samuel Loizou 15. Ky Rodwell 16. Shaun Lane 17. Sean Russell
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary (c) 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo (c)
Interchange: 14. Tyrone May 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Tevita Pangai Junior 17. Liam Martin