The hype around coach Ivan Cleary facing his old club won't be as great a factor this time as these two clubs have already met this year - a 9-8 win over the Wests Tigers in extra time at Penrith Park in round four.

The question now is how and what is Cleary doing to arrest the sliding form of his team? The 30-12 loss to the Raiders in Wagga Wagga last weekend was the Panthers fourth in a row.

The Tigers won't be offering much sympathy and perhaps are even secretly rubbing their hands that the Panthers are down on a few key personnel with injuries to Viliame Kikau, Isaah Yeo and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak.

Michael Maguire's men are 4-4 but will still be nursing some bruised egos after losing to the Roosters last round by 20 points. So they are just as hungry for a win.

Match: Wests Tigers v Panthers

Round 9 -

Full Time
Wests Tigers

Home Team

Wests Tigers

Scored 30 points
Panthers

Away Team

Panthers

Scored 4 points

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS
  • KAYO

The Rundown

Team news

Wests Tigers: After Elijah Taylor and Paul Momirovski were the last two players dropped an hour before game time, Michael Chee-Kam (No.20) returns via the bench. Michael Maguire has made several changes after last week's hiding from the Roosters, with Benji Marshall set to return from a six-week injury lay-off. Ryan Matterson moves back to his preferred back-row spot, while Matt Eisenhuth replaces Josh Aloiai (concussion) at lock. Oliver Clark is the new face on the bench and there was another change to the bench on Thursday evening with Elijah Taylor being added and Luke Garner omitted. The other man left out 24 hours before kick-off was Russell Packer.

Panthers: Viliame Kikau (No.21) will start the match for the Panthers with Frank Winterstein joining Dylan Edwards as the two players omitted an hour before kick-off. Kaide Ellis and Tyrell Fuimaono were added the starting side on Thursday at the expence of Waqa Blake (disicpline) and Hame Sele (injury). Dean Whare is back from a hamstring injury in the centres allowing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to go back to the wing. Five-eighth James Maloney is free to play after being found not guilty of a dangerous contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses Mbye
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Caleb Aekins
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 Mahe Fonua
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Robert Jennings
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Dean Whare
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Esan Marsters
    Centre for Panthers is number 15 Tyrell Fuimaono
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Corey Thompson
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 James Maloney
  • Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Ben Matulino
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
  • Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie Farah
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Wayde Egan
  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex Twal
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Ryan Matterson
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 21 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Chris McQueen
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 James Fisher-Harris
  • Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
    Lock for Panthers is number 19 Kaide Ellis

Interchange

  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Jacob Liddle
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Sione Katoa
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas Mikaele
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Oliver Clark
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Tim Grant
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 20 Michael Chee-Kam
    Interchange for Panthers is number 18 Jarome Luai

Key match-up

Luke Brooks, the reigning Dally M halfback of the year, is up against the incumbent NSW Origin halfback in Nathan Cleary. The had a field goal kick-a-thon last time these two sides met, with Brooks missing twice and Cleary nailing his one chance. But Brooks is ahead slightly on try assists (5-4) and should be reunited with his No.6 Benji Marshall (hamstring) for the first time since round three.

For the Tigers to win

They need to tighten their edge defence, especially their right side. Five of the seven Roosters tries came down their left channel. They also need fullback Moses Mbye to get more involved again, after he had a far greater impact last weekend despite the heavy loss. The skipper made a line-break, topped his team's run metre count (129), alongside his 55 post-contact metres and four tackle-breaks. 

For the Panthers to win

They need to finish off their sets with far more zing - come on down Origin halves Cleary and James Maloney. Last weekend the Panthers were equal with the Raiders on line breaks and tackle busts, but woeful on completions - 27 from 41 - for a 66% rate. It is stifling their attack because their error rate (13) was only three more than the Raiders, so ball-handling isn't the central issue.

Brett Kimmorley says

The Panthers keep on losing troops. The pressure now goes onto Nathan Cleary. He’s the Origin half and needs to start standing up and forcing Freddie to pick him. Penrith beat themselves with penalties and errors last weekend. The Wests Tigers got an education from the best last weekend. I expect them to fight tooth and nail over the things that require no skill – line speed, kick-chase and energy. They can respond to that. Tigers by 4

Stat Attack

Esan Marsters is in the top-five for tackle breaks and the top-10 for points scoring so is staking his claim for being one player Ivan Cleary needs to devote some video work on for his right-side defenders, where as previously mentioned he could be down a few troops with Yeo and Watene-Zelezniak under injury clouds.

And another thing ...

Prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard is set to play his 100th NRL game and the interest might lie in whether he starts or comes off the bench. He was highly effective as an interchange forward last week playing 62 minutes, making 110 metres off 12 runs with 42 post-contact metres.