NRL Preview Round 26: Panthers Vs Eels

Check out the match preview and prediction for the round 26 clash between the Panthers and Eels.



Penrith Panthers Vs Parramatta Eels
Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
Date: Thursday August 24, 7:50pm


Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Jack Cogger 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Zac Hosking 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Luke Garner 18. Jaeman Salmon 19. Luke Sommerton 20. Jesse McLean 21. Thomas Jenkins 22. Matt Eisenhuth

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Bailey Simonsson 5. Sean Russell 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Luca Moretti 15. Shaun Lane 16. Wiremu Greig 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Makahesi Makatoa 19. Brendan Hands 20. Waqa Blake 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Ofahiki Ogden

Referee: Ben Cummins

Embed from Getty Images


With the regular season ending, there’s no better way to open up the penultimate round with a clash between the two western Sydney rivals the Panthers and Eels. Given these two teams have had vastly different fortunes this season, this match will mean different things to them.

The home team, the Panthers, are looking to wrap up a third straight minor premiership. They need to keep winning to achieve that, given the Broncos are hot on their heels. This week, Brian To’o returns after being rested, which is a huge inclusion. They will otherwise line up largely the same as they did last week against the Titans.

Meanwhile, the Eels are all but finished for season 2023. Barring results working in their favour, they will fall just short of reaching the top eight after enduring a series of tough losses late in the season. This will shape as an opportunity to get things right for themselves, and their fans, as they prepare for next season. They have named the same team, with one change in Shaun Lane returning to the side at the expense of Brendan Hands.

The Panthers would have looked at the obvious deficiency in the Eels’ defence of recent weeks. Their edges, which have been spoken about at length, have found ways to reach all-time lows of late. Last week, Maika Sivo single-handedly gifted the Roosters easy points by rushing up and making poor defensive decisions. It’s fair to say that the Panthers will take advantage of this and send To’o his way regularly, and given enough opportunity, should find success.

With that in mind, there’s no question where the Eels need to improve. Over the past few weeks, their forwards have put in efforts in the middle, and they’ve been able to kick themselves into good field position, however over the course of 80 minutes, once a team finds their defensive weaknesses, they find themselves conceding in a similar fashion regularly. It’s a tough test for their outside backs and an opportunity to push for a continued spot in this team, as another poor showing to see out the year (with a bye in the final round) may see adjustments to the roster in 2024.


Panthers 6, Eels 4


Panthers by 14 points.

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