Check out the match preview and prediction for the round 27 clash between the Panthers and Cowboys.
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jack Cogger 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Luke Sommerton 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Zac Hosking 18. Jaeman Salmon 19. Izack Tago 20. Thomas Jenkins 21. Luke Garner 22. Matt Eisenhuth
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Zac Laybutt 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Jason Taumalolo 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Heilum Luki 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Jake Granville 15. Coen Hess 16. Griffin Neame 17. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 19. Robert Derby 20. James Tamou 21. Brendan Elliot 22. Jack Gosiewski
Referee: Todd SmithEmbed from Getty Images
The Panthers were upset at home last week by the Eels, and now face an upward battle to secure the minor premiership. With a top two spot sewn up, they have surprisingly opted to play a full strength side, minus Mitch Kenny who remains out injured, and Jarome Luai who dislocated his shoulder a week ago.
Jack Cogger will replace Luai at five-eighth, while Dylan Edwards, Scott Sorensen and Sunia Turuva are back on deck after being rested last week. Luke Sommerton will get another crack at NRL level, named to start at dummy half, while Zac Hosking drops back to the bench with Luke Garner named in the reserves. Izack Tago is also listed in the reserves and could be an outside chance of returning for his first match since Round 20.
The Cowboys will field the same 17 that enjoyed a dominant 34-10 victory over the Dolphins last week. For North Queensland to make finals, they firstly need to beat the Panthers in Penrith – one of the hardest tasks in the NRL – and have the Roosters beat the Rabbitohs. They can still make it if the Rabbitohs win and the Raiders lose to the Sharks.
Whether the minor premiership is up for grabs by kickoff or not, the Panthers will be eager to bounce back from one of their worst performances of the season last week. The return of Edwards at fullback will provide a massive boost, but Luai’s injury last week made an immediate impact, with the Panthers struggling to crack through the Eels defence despite plenty of possession and field position.
The Cowboys will know they can get the job done, having already overcome Penrith back in Round 16, albeit against an understrength opposition. Scott Drinkwater will be key, with the star fullback boasting 31 line breaks this season, the most in the competition. The Cowboys need him to be at his best up against the best defence in the NRL.
There’s no doubt the Cowboys will be fit and firing for this do-or-die clash, but a defeat at home for the Panthers is as rare as they come, and with a near full strength side, they should prove too strong.
LAST TEN MATCHES
Panthers 6, Cowboys 4
Panthers by 8 points.
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