Jem Nash previews a blockbuster clash between two undefeated sides in the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers.
It was a controversial victory for the Eels last week, with the Sea Eagles on the wrong end of a forward pass call which would have resulted in a win in the final seconds. While they may have been lucky to walk away with the two points, the Eels still produced another strong performance against a very tough opponent. The Panthers will be full of confidence, coming off a dominant win last week, so the home side will need to be at their best to remain unbeaten.
After a disappointing draw against the Knights in round three, the Panthers bounced back in a big way against the Warriors in round four. Penrith were nearly flawless in a 26-0 victory over the Warriors, with Matt Burton bouncing back from his field goal woes to lead his side with two tries and setting up another in just his third NRL game.
1 Clint Gutherson 2 Maika Sivo 3 Michael Jennings 4 Waqa Blake 5 Blake Ferguson 6 Dylan Brown 7 Mitchell Moses 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9 Reed Mahoney 10 Junior Paulo 11 Shaun Lane 12 Ryan Matterson 13 Nathan Brown Interchange: 14 Ray Stone 15 Marata Niokure 16 Kane Evans 17 Peni Terepo Reserves: 18 Brad Takairangi 19 Oregon Kaufusi 20 George Jennings 21 Will Smith
Nathan Brown returns from his suspension at lock, pushing Marata Niokure to the bench. Ray Stone has been named, with Brad Takairangi and Oregon Kaufusi moved to the reserves.
1 Caleb Aekins 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 Kurt Capewell 13 Isaah Yeo Interchange: 14 Matt Burton 15 Zane Tetevano 16 Moses Leota 17 Liam Martin Reserves: 18 Mitch Kenny 19 Billy Burns 20 Jack Hetherington 21 Dylan Edwards
Nathan Cleary returns from a two-game suspension, with Matt Burton the one to make way, being named on the bench. Liam Martin has once again been named on the interchange, with Billy Burns pushed back to the reserves. Dylan Edwards is an outside chance of returning from injury after being named as a reserve.
The Eels are pursuing their first 5-0 start since 1986. The Panthers have won five of their past seven matches against their western rivals.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Nathan Cleary v Mitchell Moses
All eyes will be on the halves in this one. Nathan Cleary makes his first start since round two, and will have his work cut out for him up against Mitchell Moses. Many pundits are tipping Moses to take over Cleary’s number seven jersey for the Blues, so Cleary will need to prove he’s still the premier playmaker in the state.
Eels by six.
Date: Friday, June 12.
Venue: Bankwest Stadium.