Jem Nash previews the round eight clash between the in form Panthers and the Tigers, who are looking to make it three wins in a row.
The Tigers have begun to hit some form and currently sit in sixth position on the back of two big wins in a row over the Cowboys and Bulldogs. After the surprise decision to drop Benji Marshall, Josh Reynolds has come in to the side and solidified his spot in the halves. On loan from the Melbourne Storm, Harry Grant has been one of the form players in the competition and is a big reason the Tigers currently sit inside the top eight.
The Panthers are flying high right now. After a dominant win against their bogey team the Storm, they backed it up with another strong performance against the Rabbitohs in a 20-12 win, where the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game. Nathan Cleary has been brilliant since his return from suspension; with a perfect blend of youth and experience, the Panthers have established themselves as a genuine premiership threat in 2020.
1 Adam Doueihi 2 David Nofoaluma 3 Joey Leilua 4 Moses Mbye 5 Tommy Talau 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Luke Brooks 8 Josh Aloiai 9 Harry Grant 10 Oliver Clark 11 Luke Garner 12 Luciano Leilua 13 Matthew Eisenhuth Interchange: 14 Elijah Taylor 15 Thomas Mikaele 16 Sam McIntyre 17 Michael Chee-Kam Reserves: 18 Benji Marshall 19 Chris Lawrence 20 Billy Walters 21 Russell Packer
The Tigers are unchanged after last week’s big win over the Bulldogs
1 Dylan Edwards 2 Josh Mansour 3 Dean Whare 4 Stephen Crichton 5 Brian To’o 6 Jarome Luai 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 James Fisher-Harris 11 Viliame Kikau 12 Liam Martin 13 Isaah Yeo Interchange: 14 Matt Burton 15 Zane Tetevano 16 Moses Leota 17 Billy Burns Reserves: 18 Mitch Kenny 19 Brent Naden Spencer Leniu 21 Tyrone May
Josh Mansour returns from injury, replacing Brent Naden on the wing in the only change for the Panthers
James Fisher-Harris is quietly developing into one of the premier forwards in the competition, coming off a monster performance last week against the Rabbitohs. Fisher-Harris has had 24 runs for 248 metres to go along with 35 tackles (zero missed) in 64 minutes on the field.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Nathan Cleary v Luke Brooks
Plenty of eyes will be on Apisai Koroisau and Harry Grant in the dummy half position, but the battle between Nathan Cleary and Luke Brooks in the halves will be the most important match-up on the field. Cleary has been superb in 2020, and is coming off another standout performance against the Rabbitohs.
Brooks hasn’t been spectacular, but has been a consistent performer for his side and his combination with Josh Reynolds is continuing to improve. He will need to be at his absolute best in this one to contend with a red hot Cleary.
Panthers by 10.
Date: Saturday, July 4
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST