Jem Nash previews a must win-clash for the Wests Tigers against the top of the table Penrith Panthers, who are seeking to extend their club record winning streak by another week.
There isn’t much to say about the Panthers that hasn’t already been said. They’re absolutely flying right now with 10 wins on the trot: they were hardly challenged last week against the Cronulla Sharks. The Panthers are arguably the most complete side in the competition, with the side firing on all cylinders, from the backs and the forwards through to their always dangerous spine. With a friendly run home, the minor premiership is theirs to lose.
It’s the other side of the coin for the Tigers. They’re still in with a shot of making the top eight, but currently sit four points outside in ninth position. With wins a premium at this time of the year, they’ve been nowhere near the level needed to contend for a finals position, with a narrow one-point win over the last-placed Bulldogs their only victory from their last five games. With Harry Grant returning to the side, the time is now for the Tigers, but it won’t be easy against a red hot Panthers outfit.
1 Dylan Edwards 2 Josh Mansour 3 Brent Naden 4 Stephen Crichton 5 Brian To’o 6 Jarome Luai 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Mitch Kenny 10 Moses Leota 11 Isaah Yeo 12 Liam Martin 13 James Fisher-Harris 14 Tyrone May 15 Spencer Leniu 16 Billy Burns 17 Zane Tetevano 18 Daine Laurie 19 Kurt Capewell 20 Matt Burton 21 Pat Hollis.
Two big outs for the Panthers, with Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau missing due to injury and suspension respectively. Mitch Kenny slots in at dummy half, Isaah Yeo moves to the second row, James Fisher-Harris moves into lock, and Billy Burns returns to the side on the bench. Brian To’o also makes his long awaited return from injury on the wing, pushing Brent Naden into centre and Tyrone May back to the bench, with Daine Laurie dropping to 18th Man.
1 Adam Doueihi 2 David Nofoaluma 3 Joseph Leilua 4 Moses Mbye 5 Tommy Talau 6 Luke Brooks 7 Nathan Cleary 8 Josh Aloiai 9 Harry Grant 10 Thomas Mikaele 11 Luke Garner 12 Luciano Leilua 13 Alex Twal 14 Matthew Eisenhuth 15 Elijah Taylor 16 Jacob Liddle 17 Shawn Blore 18 Chris Lawrence 19 Sam McIntyre 20 Josh Reynolds 21 Asu Kepaoa
Harry Grant returns at hooker, with Jacob Liddle dropping to the bench and Josh Reynolds out of the side. Russell Packer has been dropped, with Thomas Mikaele taking his spot in the front row, and Shawn Blore recalled into the 17.
The Panthers have won their past five clashes against the Tigers, including a 19-12 win back in round eight.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Dylan Edwards vs Adam Doueihi
The Panthers probably have the advantage at most positions on the field, but this is an intriguing battle to keep an eye on. Doueihi has been one of the lone bright spots during the Tigers’ current rough patch. He was arguably their best in last week’s big loss to the Roosters, scoring a try and running for 238 metres, while also contributing one line break and six tackle breaks. Despite the Tigers’ poor recent results, you can’t fault Doueihi’s efforts.
Edwards has also been extremely busy since returning from injury, cracking 200 run metres in his last two games, including nine tackle breaks in each clash. His ball playing has also improved significantly in 2020, adding that extra threat in the Panthers’ set plays.
Panthers by 14.
Date: Saturday, August 29.
Venue: Panthers Stadium.