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2021 NRL Round Eight Preview, Panthers Vs Sea Eagles

Jem Nash previews this round eight clash between the top-of-the table Panthers and the resurgent Sea Eagles. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Carrington Park, Bathurst, Date: Saturday, May 1, Time: 3:00pm AEST

Panthers

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Charlie Staines
3. Stephen Crichton
4. Matt Burton
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Moses Leota
9. Apisai Koroisau
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. Mitch Kenny
20. Robert Jennings
21. Brent Naden

Team Changes

IN: Apisai Koroisau
OUT: Mitch Kenny

Sea Eagles

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Jason Saab
3. Brad Parker
4. Morgan Harper
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Taniela Paseka
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Martin Taupau
11. Haumole Olakau’atu
12. Josh Schuster
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Cade Cust
15. Josh Aloiai
16. Sean Keppie
17. Toafofoa Siplet
18. Zac Saddler
19. Tevita Funa
20. Christian Tuipulotu
21. Ben Trbojevic

Team Changes

Unchanged

Referee: Ashley Klein

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Panthers

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The Panthers are coming off a tough, gritty win against a brave Newcastle Knights side last week. Fullback Dylan Edwards was brilliant in his return from injury last week, and the Panthers will receive another big boost for this clash with Apisai Koroisau named to start at dummy half. Now that the Panthers are back to close to full strength, they could get even better.

Sea Eagles

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Manly have named an unchanged 17 following their thrashing of the Tigers last week. Tom Trbojevic’s return at fullback has completely turned around this team. There was no doubting his importance to the Sea Eagles but nobody would have expected this kind of turnaround in such a short time. They have outscored their opponents 76-6 over the last two weeks but will now face their toughest test against the hottest team in the competition.

PREVIEW

The Sea Eagles were embarrassed by the Panthers back in round four in a 46-6 demolition at Brookvale Oval, but with Manly’s resurgence it’s sure to be a closer contest this time around. Tom Trbojevic is once again the key. He has been nothing short of dominant in his two games so far, crossing for two tries while setting up another four.

While not having the same level of impact, Dylan Edwards’ return for the Panthers last week was also incredibly important. He ran for 269 metres, made seven tackle breaks and provided constant safety defusing kicks. Similarly, Brian To’o on the wing produced a superhuman effort, amassing 28 runs for a whopping 336 metres, including 127 post-contact. The young winger easily leads the competition in run metres and post-contact metres and will be relied upon once again to do the dirty work coming out of his own end.

If To’o can get the Panthers’ sets started on the front foot, their forward pack should be able to get on top, with James Fisher-Harris leading the way and Spencer Leniu providing the impact off the bench. It will be a lot closer than their round four win, but should the Panthers get out to an early lead, the kicking game of Nathan Cleary should be able to control the game from there.

KEY STAT

The Panthers have the wood over the Sea Eagles in recent years, having won 10 of their last 12 regular season contests.

PREDICTION

Panthers by eight. 

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