Jem Nash previews a blockbuster to kick off round 22 between the Panthers and the Storm.
Penrith Panthers Vs Melbourne Storm
Venue: eBlueBet Stadium
Date: Thursday, August 11, 7:50pm AEST
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Taylan May 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Matthew Eisenhuth 11. Chris Smith 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Sunia Turuva 18. Charlie Staines 19. J’maine Hopgood 20. Robert Jennings 21. Kurt Falls 22. Viliame Kikau
Matt Eisenhuth starts at prop in place of the suspended James Fisher-Harris in the only change for the Panthers. Sunia Turuva keeps his spot after making his debut last week while Viliame Kikau could be a late addition after being named on the extended bench.Embed from Getty Images
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Cooper Johns 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Tom Eisenhuth 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Josh King 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Chris Lewis 17. Tyran Wishart 18. Alec MacDonald 19. Dean Ieremia 20. Young Tonumaipea 21. Jordan Grant 22. Jack Howarth
Cameron Munster moves back to five-eighth with Nick Meaney returning at fullback, and Cooper Johns will pair with Munster in the halves after Jahrome Hughes suffered a shoulder injury against the Titans. Justin Olam is back in the centres, with Young Tonumaipea dropping to the reserves, while Tom Eisenhuth replaces Felise Kaufusi who will miss the game after the passing of his father. Chris Lewis joins the bench.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
In what could very well be a preview of a week one finals match up, two of the most consistent teams over the last couple of years face off in Penrith. A win for the Storm will go a long way towards locking down a top four finish while the Panthers seek their second minor premiership in three years.
Any concerns the Panthers would fall off without Nathan Cleary were put to bed last week in a dominant 26-6 win over the Raiders, while the Storm made it two wins in a row thanks to a brilliant performance from Cameron Munster. Extra pressure will be on Cooper Johns at halfback with Hughes out, but if he can build on his partnership with Munster, the Storm will have a great chance to leave Penrith with a win.
For the Panthers, the loss of James Fisher-Harris is a big blow for their forward pack, but it might provide Spencer Leniu with an opportunity for more game time to help soften the blow. One month out from facing off in State of Origin, Koroisau and Grant once again going up against each other provides a mouthwatering positional battle that will be key in deciding the outcome of this game.Embed from Getty Images
The Panthers were far too good the last time these two sides played, producing a 32-6 thrashing back in Magic Round. The Storm were also missing Hughes for that match but the Panthers did have their full strength side available.
Panthers by 2
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