The equation is simple for Penrith - beat the premiers at the SCG or forget about playing finals this year.
A disappointing defeat to North Queensland last week kept the Panthers outside the top eight with two rounds to go.
Consecutive victories are required for Ivan Cleary's men to potentially salvage their season and toppling the Roosters would give credence to a prospective play-offs appearance.
The Roosters are coming off a thumping defeat of St George Illawarra and look ominous heading into the business end of 2019.
Match: Roosters v Panthers
Round 24 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Roosters: Cooper Cronk (eye) and Boyd Cordner (calf) have been ruled out. Former Dragon Drew Hutchison, in jersey No.25, will play his third game for Trent Robinson's side this year and just his seventh in the NRL coming in for Cronk at halfback. Latrell Mitchell comes in for Billy Smith at centre after a minor calf complaint sidelined him last week. Robinson also removed Sitili Tupouniua from the extended bench at the 24-hour mark. The Roosters have scored 224 points in their past six games.
Panthers: Panthers have changed their hooker for a third time in five days with Sione Katoa coming off the reserves in the No.9 role. Mitch Kenny was originally named on Tuesday but succumbed to an elbow injury suffered in a contact session. On match eve coach Ivan Cleary put Wayde Egan into hooker but an hour from kick-off he changed that to Katoa. He also cut Jarome Luai from the bench and replace him with Egan. Billy Burns makes his NRL debut as Panthers player #592. The club is making their first appearance at the SCG since 1987.
Match: Roosters v Panthers
Round 24 -
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Panthers is number 2 Stephen Crichton
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell MitchellCentre for Panthers is number 3 Dean Whare
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph ManuCentre for Panthers is number 4 Brent Naden
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett MorrisWinger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke KearyFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 James Maloney
Halfback for Roosters is number 25 Drew HutchisonHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam VerrillsHooker for Panthers is number 19 Sione Katoa
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Panthers is number 10 Moses Leota
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyLock for Panthers is number 13 James Fisher-Harris
Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Lindsay CollinsInterchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Zane TetevanoInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Billy Burns
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Nat ButcherInterchange for Panthers is number 17 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua TaukeiahoInterchange for Panthers is number 18 Wayde Egan
- Referee: Henry Perenara
- Referee: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell
James Maloney, the perennial winner, must stand up and deliver when Penrith need it most. He is tasked with outshining consummate professional Luke Keary in the playmaking stakes now that Cronk has been ruled out.
For the Roosters to win
Perfecting the old cliche of setting the platform in the middle is essential. If the Chooks roll forward, the space and time created for Keary and James Tedesco should see them exploit Penrith's edge defence.
For the Panthers to win
Restraining the opposing back five is critical. Tedesco, Tupou, Morris, Mitchell and Manu get the premiers' sets off to a ripping start, so limiting their impact is key to halting the Roosters' momentum.
Brett Kimmorley says
I’m starting to warm to the ability of the Roosters to go back-to-back. Their forwards run harder than nearly every team in the competition. They win play-the-balls. They get on the front foot and when they run their attack it is all done at pace. Luke Keary is back in superb form – he is the key for the Roosters. The Panthers have let their season slide away – too many mistakes and too many errors. If James Maloney only has two matches left in the NRL let’s see if he can create an upset. Roosters by 8
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell didn't play last week due to a calf injury but he still sits atop the NRL tryscoring ladder with 17.
And another thing ...
Penrith have defeated the Roosters once already in 2019, scoring a hard-fought 19-10 win in round 13. It's worth noting Keary, Mitchell and Jake Friend were absent, however.