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2022 NRL Round 23 Preview, Rabbitohs Vs Panthers

Andrew Pelechaty previews the Thursday night blockbuster between South Sydney and Penrith …

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MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Penrith Panthers
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
Date: Thursday August 18, 7:50pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Related: NRL Team List Tuesday

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Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Taane Milne 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Siliva Havili 17. Hame Sele 18. Blake Taaffe 19. Dean Hawkins 20. Davvy Moale 21. Shaq Mitchell 22. Izaac Thompson

Latrell Mitchell has been named despite concerns over his groin. Campbell Graham returns from a fractured cheekbone, Lachlan Ilias returns to the halfback role, and Daniel Suluka-Fifita is back in the starting side. Thomas Burgess is still sidelined.

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Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Matt Eisenhuth 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Charlie Staines 18. Robert Jennings 19. J’maine Hopgood 20. Taylan May 21. Chris Smith 22. Kurt Falls

Dylan Edwards is back, so Charlie Staines goes to the bench and Robert Jennings is 18th Man. Liam Martin (ankle) has been cleared to play.

Referee: Adam Gee

MATCHDAY PREVIEW

Another intriguing Thursday night blockbuster awaits in the run up to the finals.

While Penrith have lost two of their last three (sandwiched with a comfortable win over Canberra), they’ve all but secured another minor premiership, so they won’t be too concerned (despite a rare duck egg against Melbourne).

Souths, on the other hand, are on the edge of the four (one win behind fourth-placed Melbourne) and are looking dangerous. They’ve won six of their last seven (their one loss was in Golden Point to Cronulla-Sutherland, which they could have easily won) and have scored between 24 to 48 points in those wins. They’ve comfortably beaten the teams they should beat comfortably and also belted Parramatta 26-0 last weekend.

They have the perfect run home for a top four contender: playing Penrith, North Queensland (Homebush), and their old rivals the Sydney Roosters (to re-open the Sydney Football Stadium/Allianz Stadium). By the time the finals arrive, Souths will be used to playing quality opposition and ready to go.

Souths have lost all three Thursday night games in 2022, while Penrith have won five Thursday games in a row against Sydney clubs (dating back to 2019).

Penrith are navigating a tricky pre-finals period without Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, and finish with Souths, the Warriors (at Penrith), and the Cowboys (Townsville). With the minor premiership almost in hand, will they be guilty of having one eye on September and the home qualifying final? Will it be a rematch with Souths?

Penrith beat Souths 26-12 in the “grand final rematch” way back in Round 4 (with two tries to Taylan May).

But on current form, Souths should continue their winning momentum with a tight victory here.

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INTERESTING FACT

Last year’s grand final between Souths and Penrith was only the second Australian rugby league decider played at Lang Park (after Super League in 1997) and the first in the united NRL.

Penrith avenged their 2020 grand final loss with a 14-12 win over Souths: Stephen Crichton’s 66th minute try sealed the title for Panthers after another dominant season (23 wins and four losses before the grand final).

Souths had earlier shocked Penrith in the Townsville qualifying final (16-10), forcing the Panthers to go the long way around (beating Parramatta and Melbourne).

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Rabbitohs by two.

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