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2021 NRL Round Three Preview, Panthers Vs Storm

Jem Nash previews a massive Grand Final rematch between the Panthers and Storm on Thursday night. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Date: Thursday March 25, Time: 8:05pm AEST

Panthers

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Charlie Staines
3. Paul Momirovski
4. Stephen Crichton
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Moses Leota
9. Mitch Kenny
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Viliame Kikau
12. Kurt Capewell
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Tyrone May
15. Spencer Leniu
16. Matthew Eisenhuth
17. Liam Martin
18. Scott Sorensen
19. Matt Burton
20. J’maine Hopgood
21. Jaeman Salmon

Team Changes

Unchanged

Storm

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. George Jennings
3. Reimis Smith
4. Justin Olam
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Brandon Smith
10. Christian Welch
11. Tom Eisenhuth
12. Kenneath Bromwich
13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
14. Aaron Pene
15. Tui Kamikamica
16. Chris Lewis
17. Nicho Hynes
18. Cooper Johns
19. Darryn Schonig
20. Tyson Smoothly
21. Dean Reremia

Team Changes

IN: Aaron Pene, Nicho Hynes
OUT: Felise Kaufusi, Tyson Smoothy

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Panthers

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The Panthers have named the same 17 from their win last week against the Bulldogs, but Nathan Cleary might be in doubt after suffering a concussion, with Matt Burton in the reserves if need be.

Last year’s Grand Finalists have had a near perfect start to the year, creating history by being the first team not to concede a single point in the opening two rounds. They get a very tough test now as they seek revenge against the team who beat them in the 2020 grand final.

Storm

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Tom Eisenhuth comes into the starting side for the suspended Felise Kaufusi while Aaron Pene and Nicho Hynes come onto the bench for their first taste of action in 2021.

The Storm have had an inconsistent start to the season, as they adapt to life without Cameron Smith. A blistering start to their game against the Rabbitohs set up their round one victory on the back of a brilliant performance by Ryan Papenhuyzen before a misstep against the Eels in round two. They had their chances to win but were constantly thwarted by Parramatta’s strong defence, including some stunning try-savers by fullback Clint Gutherson. They’ll have their work cut out for them against a Penrith side who has yet to concede a point this season.

PREVIEW

There’s no doubt the Panthers would have been counting down to this day since the draw was announced. Last year’s Grand Final loss would still be fresh in their minds and they will be out for revenge. They couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, but they will be hoping Cleary will be fit to start following his concussion. If he’s ruled out, it will be up to Jarome Luai and Burton to take the reins.

Two of the league’s premier forward packs will be going head-to-head in this match, and that battle will be key to who comes out on top. James Fisher-Harris has become one of the premier props in the competition and will go up against Jesse Bromwich in an exciting match-up in the middle of the field.

Another key player battle will be that of Luai and Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster. If Cleary is ruled out, the pressure will be high on Luai to lead the team from the front. The Panthers half was outstanding in their win over the Bulldogs, amassing two try assists, two line break assists as well as 84 run metres. Munster remains one of the best players in the competition and will be extremely important to the Storm’s chances of walking away with a win.

KEY STAT

The Storm have had the advantage over the Panthers in recent times, winning six of their last eight clashes.

PREDICTION

Panthers by four.

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