Penrith Panthers will be desperately trying to end their three game losing streak when they travel to ANZ Stadium on Saturday to take on western Sydney rivals Parramatta Eels.

LAST TIME OUT

Penrith Panthers hosted defending premiers Cronulla Sharks at Pepper Stadium on Easter Sunday.  An early penalty goal to Nathan Clary game the Panthers the lead and despite a keenly contested first half, they trailed 12-2 at the break.  The game was gone after Jack Bird crossed six minutes after the break.  Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita scored in the final twenty minutes for the Sharks to record a big win 28-2.

Parramatta Eels hosted a disjointed Wests Tigers on Easter Monday at ANZ Stadium.  A week filled with controversy where Mitchell Moses asked for an early release from his Tigers contract to take up an offer with the Eels.  It looked like the Tigers were well on their way to victory at 22-10 with twenty minutes remaining before tries to Kirisome Auva’a, Josh Hoffman and Semi Radradra completed a big comeback from the Eels on their way to recording their third win of the season 26-22.

KEY BATTLE

The forward battle will pave the way to either sides chances of winning this derby clash. There’s been admissions from the Panthers forwards this week that they need to do more to support the young halves Te Maire Martin and Nathan Cleary.  A lot more is required out of James Tamou and Trent Merrin to show the way.  The return of Bryce Cartwright will help too. The Eels have ex-Panther Suaia Matagi, veteran Tim Mannah and former Bunnie Nathan Brown who will be doing their best to frustrate the opposition forward pack.

PREDICTION

Penrith Panthers won both games in 2016 and a key factor was Bryce Cartwright.  However there’s plenty of pressure on this young side having only beaten Wests Tigers and Newcastle in the opening seven rounds.  Parramatta Eels just might have the edge through their back line in what will be a close contest.

Eels by 6

SQUADS

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Brad Takairangi 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 14. Beau Scott 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Kenny Edwards 17. Siosaia Vave 18. David Gower 19. Will Smith 20. George Jennings 21. Marata Niukore

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Waqa Blake 3. Dean Whare 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. James Fisher-Harris 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin 14. Peta Hiku 15. Leilani Latu 16. Tim Browne 17. Moses Leota 18. Corey Harawira 19. Sitaleki Akauola 20. Viliame Kikau 21. Bryce Cartwright