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2021 NRL Round 22 Preview, Dragons Vs Panthers

Jem Nash previews this round 22 clash between the Dragons and Panthers as the Dragons look to keep their slim finals hopes alive. This is what we have to look forward to.

TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Date: Friday August 13, Time: 6:00pm AEST

Dragons Team

1. Jack Bird
2. Mathew Feagai
3. Gerard Beale
4. Zac Lomax
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Corey Norman
7. Adam Clune
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Andrew McCullogh
10. Josh McGuire
11. Billy Burns
12. Tyrell Fuimaono
13. Jack De Belin
14. Talatau Amone
15. Jackson Ford
16. Josh Kerr
17. Kaide Ellis
18. Matthew Dufty
19. Poasa Faamausili
20. Jayden Sullivan
21. Jaiyden Hunt

Team Changes

IN: Gerard Beale, Jayden Sullivan, Josh Kerr, Poasa Faamausili, Tyrell Fuimaono
OUT: Cody Ramsey, Tariq Sims

Panthers Team

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

Team Changes

IN: Brent Naden, Jaeman Salmon, Nathan Cleary, Stephen Crichton, Tevita Pangai Jr
OUT:
Kurt Capewell, Spencer Leniu

Referee: Ben Cummins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Dragons

Gerard Beale comes into the centres, taking the place of the injured Cody Ramsey, while Tyrell Fuimaono replaces the suspended Tariq Sims in the second row. The Dragons come into this game on the back of four straight losses, almost ending any chance of finals with a tough run home. Despite getting out to an early 8-0 lead against the Raiders last week, the Dragons weren’t able to hold on as Canberra came back for an unconvincing 20-12 win.

Panthers

Apisai Koroisau and Kurt Capewell will miss this weekend’s game due to suspension, with Mitch Kenny likely to start at hooker. Nathan Cleary has once again been named in the reserves but coach Ivan has said the star halfback won’t be rushed back from injury. The Panthers bounced back from their trouncing at the hands of the Storm with a gritty 20-14 win over the Roosters last week. Matt Burton was the star for Penrith, producing a standout performance with two tries, three line breaks, and a game-high 211 run metres in the win.

PREVIEW

This match shapes as an important one for both teams. The Dragons simply have to win to keep their finals hopes alive while the Panthers are looking to stay in the race for the minor premiership while also trying to hold off the Rabbitohs, who are below them in third only due to point difference.

On paper, this should be a relatively easy win for the Panthers, but they are still yet to find their best form without Cleary in the halves. Burton was outstanding last week but Penrith will be hoping to see an improved performance from Luai, who has been relatively quiet without his usual halves partner. If Burton can fire again, and Luai can get back to his damaging best, the Panthers will be very hard to stop.

For the Dragons, now is the time for their big names to step up and lead the way. If the likes of Josh McGuire and Jack De Belin can get on top through the middle of the field, that might provide Corey Norman a chance to create some scoring opportunities with his running game.

KEY STAT

The recent history between these two sides has been pretty even, with the Panthers just edging them out with six wins across the last 10 matches.

PREDICTION

The Panthers are slowly starting to find their mojo again, while the Dragons are currently in a slump. It shouldn’t be easy for the Panthers but they should be too good in this one.

Panthers by 10.

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