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Minor premiers Penrith go into a sold-out opening finals clash with the Sydney Roosters firing on all cylinders and looking to extend their club-record winning streak.

While the Panthers tuned up for this clash by cantering to a 15th straight victory over the Bulldogs, scoring eight tries, the Roosters were ripped apart in a 60-8 loss to the Rabbitohs.

Penrith beat the Roosters 20-14 in round one but the intensity will be even higher this time with a preliminary final berth on the line.

The rundown

Team news

Panthers: The Panthers are 1-17. Winger Brian To'o jammed his ankle last round but didn't require scans and, having been named, looks on track to play. Coach Ivan Cleary said after round 20's win that his squad was otherwise healthy.

Dean Whare and Matt Burton were the two players dropped from the squad 24 hours before the match.

Fullback Dylan Edwards, centre Stephen Crichton and second-rower Viliame Kikau are back after being rested, with Daine Laurie, Matt Burton and Spencer Leniu dropping out. Utility Tyrone May and back-rower Kurt Capewell have reverted to the bench.

Penrith have won three of their past four games against the Roosters at Panthers Stadium.

Mitch Kenny and Leniu were the last two players omitted an hour before kick-off.

The ultimate test: Panthers juggernaut meets Roosters on the rebound

Roosters: Angus Crichton comes into the starting side in No.16 with Sitili Tupouniua going back to the bench. Mitch Aubusson takes the final spot on the interchange bench, while Lachlan Lam comes out of the line-up.

Sonny Bill Williams won't face the Panthers after being omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. On Thursday night the Roosters said the star signing wouldn't play due to a "flare up of a neck complaint". Williams and Matt Ikuvalu were the two players dropped from the squad.

Nat Butcher in jersey 18 comes on to the bench for Williams.

Hooker Jake Friend is out after a head knock last week but winger Brett Morris, centre Joey Manu, lock Isaac Liu and bench prop Lindsay Collins will all return after a rest. Freddy Lussick has replaced Friend at hooker. 

The Roosters have won their past six finals matches.

Poasa Faamausili was the other player cut an hour before game time.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
    Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Brent Naden
    Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Kyle Flanagan

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
    Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Freddy Lussick
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 16 Angus Crichton
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
    Interchange for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Kurt Capewell
    Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Lindsay Collins
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
    Interchange for Roosters is number 18 Nat Butcher
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Zane Tetevano
    Interchange for Roosters is number 19 Mitchell Aubusson

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Chris Butler
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key match-up

Nathan Cleary v Luke Keary. Few would argue that Panthers halfback Cleary has been the best half, if not player, of the regular season. Now his challenge is handling the immense pressure of the finals spotlight - which can be blinding. Keary usually grows an extra leg at this time of the year and the Roosters five-eighth will be out to prove a point after last week's result.

Stat attack

The last time Penrith met the Roosters in week one of the finals was at Allianz Stadium in 2014. On that night, Jamie Soward booted a field goal to secure a 19-18 win for the Panthers.