Josh Mercer previews the first qualifying final between minor premiers the Penrith Panthers and fourth-placed Sydney Roosters. This is what we have to look forward to.
Though they were missing a few players, the Panthers easily accounted for the second-last Bulldogs. Halves Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary were in fine touch, like they have been all season, while Brent Naden and Kurt Capewell also starred.
What can be said about the Roosters’ heavy loss that hasn’t already been said? While they were able to draw first blood through a Josh Morris try, it was all downhill from there for the defending premiers. While they can make history if they do win the premiership hat-trick (also becoming the first team to win a title after conceding 50 points in a game), it doesn’t look good for the boys from Bondi.
Dane Laurie is the only out for the Panthers.
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. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Kurt Capewell 16. Moses Leota 17. Zane Tetevano 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Dean Whare 20. Matt Burton 21. Spencer Leniu.
Jake Friend is the Roosters’ only loss for this game.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Freddy Lussick 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu 14. Lachlan Lam 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Angus Crichton 17. Sonny Bill Williams 18. Nat Butcher 19. Mitchell Aubusson 20. Poasa Faamausili 21. Matt Ikuvalu.
Though last week wasn’t a good indication, the Roosters have only conceded an average of 13 points this season. The Panthers’ average for this season is 12.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Jarome Luai vs Luke Keary
The five-eighth battle will be the one to watch. Jarome Luai has been in fine form all season and he may just go up a level at finals time. Luke Keary will want to put this last week behind him and will come out firing, as he very rarely plays a bad game back-to-back.
Panthers by 14.
Date: Friday, October 2nd.
Venue: Penrith Stadium.