2022 NRL Week 1 Finals Preview, Panthers Vs Eels

Jem Nash previews a massive battle of the west as the Panthers face the Eels in the opening match of the finals.

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Penrith Panthers Vs Parramatta Eels
Venue: BlueBet Stadium
Date: Friday, September 9, 7:50pm AEST


Related: NRL Team List Tuesday

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Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Taylan May 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 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. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon 18. Charlie Staines 19. Matthew Eisenhuth 20. J’maine Hopgood 21. Sean O’Sullivan 22. Chris Smith

The Panthers are back to full strength after resting the majority of their team last week, including the massive addition of Nathan Cleary returning from suspension.

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Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Tom Opacic 5. Waqa Blake 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Ryan Matterson 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Jake Arthur 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Marata Niukore 18. Nathan Brown 19. Bailey Simonsson 20. Bryce Cartwright 21. Ofahiki Ogden 22. Ky Rodwell

The Eels have named the same 17 that got the win against the Storm last week. Nathan Brown could be a late inclusion after being named in the reserves.

Referee: Gerard Sutton


The Panthers have lost just four games all season, and two of those came at the hands of the Eels, most recently a 34-10 loss back in round 20 thanks to a first half blitz from Parramatta after Nathan Cleary was sent off. Now Cleary comes back, and he and the Panthers will want payback, while the Eels will be after revenge after Penrith knocked them out of last year’s finals series.

Cleary is obviously key to the Panthers chances. There might be some concerns that he’ll be coming into this game after more than a month out, but if his kicking game can be at his normal level, Penrith will be in a good spot. He goes up against Mitchell Moses who has been in some terrific form heading into finals. If his kicking game can combat that of Cleary’s and give his side the better field position the Eels are in with a great shot.

This is all set up to be one of the matches of the finals series. These two sides have a massive rivalry, and the Eels will come in with plenty of confidence given their results against the Panthers this year. Back to full strength, the Panthers still probably come in as favourites, but it genuinely could go either way.

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The overall head-to-head between these two teams is almost dead even, with the Panthers winning 24 of their 47 matches, but as stated Parramatta have the recent momentum.


Panthers by 2

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