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Panthers winger Brian To'o.

Consider it an entrée to the main meal that will be served through the month of October with a much higher prize on the table. 

Friday night's Battle of the West looms as the appetiser to a possible qualifying final clash that could take place in week one of the finals - some 35 years in the making.

Penrith and Parramatta have squared off in a bitter local rivalry for more than five decades but never have both western Sydney clubs finished in the top four in the same season.

Their first playoff meeting was in 1985 - a semi-final won by the Eels 38-6 at the SCG - and their only other post-season encounter was in 2000, also won by Parramatta, this time to the tune of a 28-10 triumph at the SFS. 

First-placed Penrith are searching to become just the third team in the NRL era to notch 13 wins on the trot in a bid to secure their third minor premiership.

A win on Friday will all but lock in a Panthers v Eels, first versus fourth, playoff in the first week of the finals.

Eels keen to make pre-finals statement against Panthers

The Eels are planning to end Penrith's winning streak at a dozen and issue a statement of their own to the rest of the Telstra Premiership by knocking off the competition leaders for a second time this year.

A win would also push the Eels clear of the Raiders for a top-four spot with two rounds remaining with only the Roosters likely to go ahead of them on points differential.

And make no mistake, neither the Panthers or Eels forgets about the corresponding clash in round five, nor do they like each other.

"It's been a really strong a hotly contested rivalry and particularly now they've got a few players who have come from Penrith over the past couple of seasons," Panthers back-rower Isaah Yeo said.

"I'm sure every time they play us they try to put their best foot forward and prove a point with the club.

"That will be no different this game compared to what it was like last time.

"I think in terms of this weekend it's a top-four team against a top-four team and this is a really good rehearsal for the future.

"I think they'll try and start fast which is what they like to do and something we've been doing well during the whole season.

"They'll want to make a statement and try to prove their premiership-credentials."

The Panthers had a small win last month with confirmation they'll host a home final either in week one or two of the competition after securing a top-four spot.

Yeo believes the Eels dislike travelling to Panthers Stadium and after being forced to play out of ANZ Stadium in previous years, he welcomed a possible qualifying final on home turf.

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"It's sort of got that persona but in terms of unbiased I think it's one of the best surfaces in the competition," Yeo said.

"No club likes coming out here but we're always excited to play in our backyard. We haven't been beaten at all there this year. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage this weekend."

Former Panthers Waqa Blake and Reagan Campbell-Gillard return to the stadium for the first time since their abrupt exits last season. 

Blake proved the difference for the Eels last time the sides met in June.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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