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The Panthers took the Broncos' best punch last week, coming from behind to carve out a 25-12 win - their 15th of the season - and remain firmly on course for the minor premiership.

Their only loss in 2020 was at the hands of the Eels back in round five, so payback will be high on the agenda on Friday night at Panthers Stadium.

The old saying goes that teams on long win streaks are better off losing a game before the finals. Only time will tell in the case of the Panthers.

Parramatta got their premiership campaign back on track with last week's convincing win over an in-form Warriors outfit, but we'll get a much clearer picture of where the Eels are truly at on Friday.

The rundown

Team news

Panthers: Penrith will start 1-17 after Mitch Kenny and Kurt Capewell were omitted an hour before kick-off. Lock Isaah Yeo will return from a head knock with James Fisher-Harris returning to prop and Moses Leota to the bench. 

Matt Burton and Charlie Staines were omitted 24 hours before kick-off.

The Panthers are aiming to become the third team in the NRL era to win 13 in a row in one season.

Eels: Reed Mahoney (shoulder) failed a fitness test on Thursday morning and coach Brad Arthur confirmed the hooker won't play. Ray Stone will take his place while utility Will Smith has earned a bench spot as a dummy-half back-up.

"[Reed] just lacks a little bit of power passing the ball, so there's no need to play him," Arthur said.

"We had a plan to give Reedy a bit of rest over the last couple of weeks just to make sure he was freshened up at the end of the year."

Reserves Stefano Utoikamanu and Haze Dunster were the two players dropped from the squad an hour before kick-off.

In other changes to the 17 which beat the Warriors, Andrew Davey has come onto the bench in place of Marata Niukore (rib).

Samuel Hughes was the other player to drop out of the squad on Thursday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Brent Naden
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael Jennings
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Eels is number 4 Waqa Blake
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jai Field
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
    Prop for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Eels is number 14 Ray Stone
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Ryan Matterson
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Andrew Davey
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Kane Evans
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
    Interchange for Eels is number 17 Oregon Kaufusi
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Zane Tetevano
    Interchange for Eels is number 20 Will Smith

Key match-up

Nathan Cleary v Mitch Moses. There's some good halfbacks around but Cleary sits on top of the pile. He has been a model of consistency in 2020 and plays like a man who only has eyes for a premiership.

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Moses has all the skills and can dominate a game but hasn't shaken off his tendency to coast in other games. He will have to be at his absolute best in his clash with Cleary.

Stat attack

Don't be surprised if the score is 16-10 in Friday night's showdown. That's what it was when the Eels handed Penrith their only loss of the season in round five and it was exactly the same score when the Panthers beat Parra last year in round 11. Their other meeting in 2019 finished in a 20-12 victory to the Eels, so there might not be many points scored when they square off on Friday.