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2021 NRL Round 12 Preview, Panthers Vs Bulldogs

Jem Nash previews what could be a points-fest as the ladder leading Panthers take on the lowly Bulldogs at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday afternoon. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Date: Saturday, May 29, Time: 3:00pm

Panthers

1. Stephen Crichton
2. Charlie Staines
3. Paul Momirovski
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. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Tyrone May
15. Scott Sorensen
16. Matthew Eisenhuth
17. Spencer Leniu
18. Mitch Kenny
19. Robert Jennings
20. Lindsay Smith
21. Izack Tago

Team Changes

IN: Moses Leota
OUT: Kurt Capewell

Bulldogs

1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
2. Nick Cotric
3. Will Hopoate
4. Aaron Schoupp
5. Nick Meaney
6. Brandon Wakeham
7. Jake Averillo
8. Jack Hetherington
9. Jackson Topine
10. Luke Thompson
11. Adam Elliott
12. Matt Doorey
13. Josh Jackson
14. Bradley Deltz
15. Joe Stimson
16. Dylan Napa
17. Ava Seumanufagai
18. Kyle Flanagan
19. Corey Waddell
20. Tuipulotu Katoa
21. Renouf Atoni

Team Changes

IN: Jack Hetherington, Josh Jackson, Jackson Topine, Joe Stimson
OUT: Chris Smith, Sione Katoa, Corey Waddell, Renouf Atoni

Referee: Matt Noyen

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Panthers

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Kurt Capewell is out suspended with Moses Leota returning to the front row and Liam Martin shifting into his normal position in the back row. The Panthers were superb once again last week in a game most punters thought would be a tightly fought contest. The premiership favourites simply blew the Rabbitohs off the park from the very beginning, with Matt Burton the hero scoring a hat-trick in his home town of Dubbo in a 56-12 thrashing. At the moment, there just seems to be no stopping the Panthers juggernaut.

Bulldogs

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There’s a few changes for the Bulldogs this week, with Jack Hetherington and Josh Jackson returning into the forward pack in a big boost for the side. They still sit on just one win so far this season, and are coming off a 30-20 loss to the Titans last week. There’s been no shortage of concerns for the Bulldogs this season, and they have conceded the most points in the competition as well as scoring the least. In fact, Nathan Cleary alone has scored more points than the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are going to have to be at their best to be any chance of winning this game, and even then that may not be enough.

PREVIEW

This is a game that could get out of hand very quickly if the Bulldogs aren’t switched on from the start. It’s up to the Dogs to get on top in the middle of the field, and the additions of Jackson and Hetherington will be a big help. They’ll still be up against it against James Fisher-Harris and the Panthers pack.

Fisher-Harris was once again the star last week in the absence of Leota, gaining 196 metres on 16 runs. Combined with the workhorse lock Isaah Yeo, they are incredibly hard to stop. Perhaps the biggest gap between the sides, however, is in the halves. Nathan Cleary is the best player in the competition right now – aside from maybe Tom Trbojevic – and his combination with Jarome Luai is second to none.

Meanwhile, Jake Averillo and Brandon Wakeham don’t exactly strike fear into opposition teams. They both have talent, but provide an inexperienced combination for a struggling side. They’ll have their work cut out for them up against the best defensive team in the league.

KEY STAT

The Panthers have won six of the last eight contests between the two sides.

PREDICTION

Panthers by 30

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