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2021 NRL Round 21 Preview, Roosters Vs Panthers

Jem Nash previews this round 21 clash between two understrength sides in the Panthers and Roosters. This is what we have to look forward to.

TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Date: Saturday, August 7, Time: 5:30pm AEST

Roosters Team

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Adam Keighran
4. Joseph Manu
5. Dale Copley
6. Drew Hutchison
7. Sam Walker
8. Jared Warea-Hargreaves
9. Sam Verrills
10. Isaac Liu
11. Angus Crichton
12. Sitili Tupouniua
13. Victor Radley
14. Lachlan Lam
15. Nat Butcher
16. Egan Butcher
17. Siosiua Taukeiaho
18. Ben Marschke
19. Fletcher Baker
20. Moala Graham-Taufa
21. Naufahu Whyte

Team Changes

IN: Ben Marschke, Dale Copley, Moala Graham-Taufa, Naufahu Whyte
OUT: Josh Morris

Panthers Team

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Charlie Staines
3. Paul Momirovski
4. Kurt Capewell
5. Brent Naden
6. Matt Burton
7. Jarome Luai
8. Moses Leota
9. Apisai Koroisau
10. Liam Martin
11. Viliame Kikau
12. Scott Sorensen
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Mitch Kenny
15. Tevita Pangai Junior
16. Spencer Leniu
17. Matthew Eisenhuth
18. Izack Tago
19. Taylan May
20. J’maine Hopgood
21. Nathan Cleary

Team Changes

IN: Apisai Koroisau, Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary, Taylan May, Tevita Pangai Junior
OUT:
Robert Jennings, Stephen Crichton

Referee: Gerard Butler

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Roosters

Dale Copley comes onto the wing in place of the injured Josh Morris in the only change for the Roosters. They are coming off a dominant 28-0 win over the Eels last week, which keeps them firmly in the hunt for a top four finish. It would be an outstanding effort from the Roosters to make it, as they’ve been hit hardest by injuries this season.

Panthers

The Panthers will benefit from a couple of big additions this week, with Isaah Yeo returning from concussion and Apisai Koroisau back at dummy half after serving a two-game suspension. Stephen Crichton will miss this game due to a suspension, with Paul Momirovski taking his place in the centres, while Kurt Capewell will also play centre with Brent Naden moved to the wing and Robert Jennings dropped. Scott Sorensen will start in the second row in place of Kurt Capewell while star recruit Tevita Pangai Jr will make his club debut off the bench. Nathan Cleary is also an outside chance to make his much-needed return after being named in the reserves.

They’re coming off a heavy 37-10 defeat at the hands of the Storm last week, and despite being severely understrength for that clash they left a lot to be desired with some sloppy play and poor discipline letting them down. The Roosters will be hungry after a strong win last week and the Panthers will need to improve to come away with the win.

PREVIEW

This match could have serious implications on the makeup of the top eight. The Panthers now sit equal second with the Rabbitohs after the loss to the Storm, while the Roosters are on equal points with the fourth-placed Eels. The Roosters have showed they can deal with the adversity their injury list has created, while the Panthers have struggled since the start of the Origin period, particularly in the absence of Cleary. If he can’t return, the halves pairing of Jarome Luai and Matt Burton must step up after a quiet outing last week.

Defence will be key, with both sides boasting attacking weapons. The Panthers still barely have the best defensive record in 2021, but have struggled in recent weeks. Yeo and Korisau will help steady their defence in the middle but missed tackles were a serious issue against the Storm.

For the Roosters it starts in the middle. If the likes of Jared Warea-Hargreaves, Angus Crichton, and Victor Radley can get on top through the middle, James Tedesco could have a field day. The Panthers need to limit the offloads and not let the Roosters gain any consistent momentum.

KEY STAT

The Panthers have won four of the last five matches between the two sides, most recently a 38-12 win back in round 15, largely thanks to a Nathan Cleary masterclass.

PREDICTION

If Cleary is able to play, the Panthers should prove too strong. Even if he remains out, the additions of Yeo and Korisau back into this side should provide a big enough boost for the Panthers to come away with the win.

Panthers by eight.

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