Wests Tigers v Penrith Panthers
The Wests Tigers host the Penrith Panthers in what should be a cracking game of Sunday afternoon footy at Leichhardt Oval.
Both teams are last start losers, the Tigers going down to last-placed Manly, while the Panthers were convincingly outmuscled by the Bulldogs.
The Tigers welcome back Robbie Farah, who has recovered from a nasty shoulder injury. His return sees Dene Halatau drop back to the bench and Manaia Cherrington pushed out of the side. Delouise Hoeter replaces David Nofoaluma in the centres while the physically imposing Sauaso Sue returns to the bench, pushing Brendan Santi to 18th man.
The 11th placed Panthers get a huge boost with the return of the powerful Josh Mansour on the wing. His inclusion sees Waqa Blake move to the centres, Issah Yeo shift to the back row and Lewis Brown move back to the bench in place of James Segeyaro (knee). Sika Manu has been named 18th man.
Watch out Tigers: With the Panthers crippled by injuries in recent weeks, Jamie Soward will be looking for a big game. The skillful playmaker needs to step up and lead his team to victory. Soward has an exceptional kicking game, while also possessing explosive speed off the mark and a great cut-out pass.
Watch out Panthers: Mitchell Moses showed his attacking potential in a beaten side last week, with two tries and a try assist. Now that he's shown the ability to be a game changer, he'll be looking to stamp himself on this match. He still misses the second most tackles in the competition, but behind a beefed up pack with the returns of Farah and Sue, he's set to have another blinder against a weary Panthers outfit.
Key Match-Up: Robbie Farah v Apisai Koroisau: With James Segeyaro suffering a serious knee injury against the Bulldogs, Koroisau has the perfect opportunity to play big minutes in his favourite position in the coming weeks. He'll get his first chance against one of the game's toughest competitors in the position, Robbie Farah. Farah's importance to the Tigers cannot be understated. If the Panthers hooker allows Farah to dominate this match-up it will be lights out for Penrith. Expect a big game from Koroisau.
The History: Played 26; Wests Tigers 11, Panthers 15. The last time these two met in 2014, the Panthers claimed top spot on the ladder with a clinical 26-10 victory at Leichardt Oval.
What Are The Odds: Penrith’s injury toll has been noticed by Sportsbet punters who’ve placed five times the money on the Tigers to win. It doesn’t look like being a blowout though – Tigers 1-12 is the most popular margin. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Gavin Badger. Assistant referee: Alan Shortall. Touch Judges: Brett Suttor and Lawrence McDonell. Video Referees: Ashley Klein and Henry Perenara.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 4:00pm.
The Way We See It: The Tigers will be fired up for a big performance at Leichhardt Oval. The partisan crowd didn't deter Penrith last year when they dominated a similar fixture, but they're in a much weaker position now with their recent run of injuries. Mansour's return should boost his team, but the Tigers will be too good, they'll get the win by 12 points.