Jem Nash previews arguably the match of the round when the Penrith Panthers take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Kogarah.
The Panthers currently sit in equal second after an impressive win over the Melbourne Storm last week. They bounced back from a narrow loss to the Eels to overcome the Storm for just the third time since 2006. The Panthers forward pack is rolling, Nathan Cleary and Apisai Koroisau are continuing to improve their combination, while Dylan Edwards made a big difference in his first game of the 2020 season last week.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
After disappointing losses against the Roosters and Storm following the hiatus, the Rabbitohs have bounced back with big wins over the Titans and Warriors. Cody Walker has made a big difference over the last two weeks, while Latrell Mitchell continues to find his feet at fullback. They will have their work cut out for them this week against a Panthers side that will be full of confidence.
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 14 Matt Burton 15 Zane Tetevano 16 Moses Leota 17 Billy Burns 18 Mitch Kenny 19 Brent Naden 20 Jack Hetherington 21 Tyrone May.
The Panthers side is unchanged from last week’s big win over the Storm.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
1 Latrell Mitchell 2 Dane Gagai 3 Campbell Graham 4 Braidon Burns 5 Alex Johnston 6 Cody Walker 7 Adam Reynolds 8 Tevita Tatola 9 Damien Cook 10 Thomas Burgess 11 Jaydn Su’A 12 Ethan Lowe 13 Cameron Murray 14 Liam Knight 15 Bailey Sironen 16 Patrick Mago 17 James Roberts 18 Mark Nicholls 19 Hame Sele 20 Troy Dargan 21 Corey Allan.
James Roberts replaces the injured Tom Amone in the only change for the Rabbitohs.
The Panthers are on top of the competition when it comes to run metres, with 11,536 metres through six games, while the Rabbitohs are down in 14th with 9,552. The two sides have three wins apiece in their last six games played against each other.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Nathan Cleary v Adam Reynolds
There are some great match ups across the park in this one. Api Koroisau and Damien Cook are two of the best dummy halves in the game, while a fast-improving Latrell Mitchell comes up against Dylan Edwards (who was impressive in his first game back after a long absence due to injury). However, the main battle to watch will be between halfbacks Nathan Cleary and Adam Reynolds.
Both players were instrumental in their respective side’s wins last week. Cleary’s kicking game was close to perfect, setting up a try and booting a clutch field goal, while Reynolds added a try and was perfect from the tee in the Rabbitohs’ win over the Warriors. Both Cleary and Reynolds are two of the competition’s premier goal kickers, and this game could very well come down to which kicker is more accurate.
Panthers by six.
Date: Thursday, June 25
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.50pm AEST