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The Penrith Panthers will be looking to build into the finals with a big win over the Wests Tigers in Redcliffe. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:05pm (AEST).
The Panthers came from behind last week to down the Rabbitohs, in a sign that the mountain men are tuning up for another premiership charge. The Tigers meanwhile kissed their finals aspirations goodbye with a demoralising defeat to the Sharks.
The Panthers are all but full strength for this one, welcoming back Brian To’o and James Fisher-Harris. There are some concerns over fullback Dylan Edwards, who left the field with concussion last round, but he has been named to play. Ivan Cleary is obviously looking to get his very best side onto the park before finals footy, with injuries and suspension keeping various members out of their squad in recent weeks.
The Tigers are without Adam Doueihi for this one. One of if not the best player for Wests for much of the season, he failed to finish last week with a knee complaint. They do welcome back Jabob Liddle at hooker, though, as well as Thomas Mikaele up front.
These two have already clashed this year, although it was under vastly different circumstances. In front of a parochial Leichhardt Oval crowd, the Tigers handed the Panthers their first loss of the season after starting the year 12-0. The Panthers were missing eight of their starting side on that night on Origin duty, however; and while the Tigers were spirited it was the most decisive factor in their win.
In recent times the Panthers have been fairly dominant over the Tigers, winning seven of their last nine matches. Once again there is no home-ground advantage in this one, being played in Queensland due to the ongoing NSW COVID-19 situation.
This is a tale of two sides coming from very different places. The Panthers are building momentum for a big finals charge. They have been welcoming back star players week on week, and are getting their combinations back. Nathan Cleary has made the Panthers look that much better the last fortnight; he makes them more organised, clinical and most tellingly, seems to make those around him play better. They now get Origin winger and metre-eater Brian To’o back, as well as James Fisher-Harris, who adds to an already fearsome pack.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are winding down after yet another disappointing year. They conceded 50 last year, and that was with them being in the game at various stages. They lose their best attacking player for this one in Doueihi, and must have confidence at an all-time low after last week’s shellacking. The Panthers won’t show them any mercy.
With strike weapons all over the park, and a finals series just over the horizon, the Panthers will be winning this in a canter.
Panthers by 30+
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. Api Koroisau, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Isaah Yeo (c)
Bench/Reserves: 14. Mitch Kenny, 15. Scott Sorensen, 16. Tevita Pangai Jr, 17. Liam Martin | 18. Izack Tago, 19. Taylan May, 20. Tyrone May, 21. Charlie Staines
1. Moses Mbye, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Tommy Talau, 4. Michael Chee Kam, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Jock Madden, 7. Luke Brooks (c), 8. Thomas Mikaele, 9. Jacob Little, 10. Stefano Utoikamanu, 11. Shawn Blore, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Alex Twal
Bench/Reserves: 14. Joe Ofahengaue, 15. Jake Simpkin, 16. Tom Amone, 17. Alex Seyfarth | 18. James Roberts, 19. Billy Walters, 20. Tuki Simpkins, 21. Zac Cini