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Penrith are the only unbeaten team after five rounds of the 2021 season.

After they won 17 straight last year, attention has turned towards what mark they will set this season.

With the Broncos, Knights and Manly coming in the next three weeks, advancing their 2021 record to 8-0 looks on the cards. But after that the challenges start getting harder. 

With that in mind, the experts at have had their say on which side they expect to be first to lower the colours of the Panthers.

Experts' view - First team to beat Penrith

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

I will go with the Titans (round 10). They have the firepower to match the Panthers right across the park. David Fifita and Big Tino (Fa'asuamaleaui) are capable of beating anyone on their day.

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Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

Rabbitohs (round 11). One of the top three teams in the competition, Souths' pack will contain the Panthers, Cook out of dummy half will be too quick and that lethal left edge will do what they do best.

Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

Storm (round 20). If the players remain fit and healthy it is going to be a while before Penrith lose. I think it will come against the Storm. By that stage, fatigue would have set in and I expect them to drop one or two games before the finals. 

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

The Rabbitohs (round 11) will be the first team to beat the Panthers. Plenty have talked about the Panthers' confidence, but I also see the same confidence oozing from players like Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell. It could be a grand final preview.

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Alicia Newton ( reporter)

An away trip to Dubbo against the Rabbitohs (round 11) will be a tough clash and where their regular season is likely to end, but not by much.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

No one has been able to come up with a plan to beat the Panthers this year and no one looks like they're capable of doing so, apart from that team that broke their last losing streak. Melbourne (round 20) look the most likely to be the first to take down Penrith in 2021.

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

The Panthers’ biggest challenge will come against the Storm (round 20) at AAMI Park. The battle between these two clubs has turned into a great modern rivalry and I expect this to be another great chapter. 

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Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

Rabbitohs (round 11). The Panthers’ draw  for the first half of the year is a dream run but this Dubbo clash against a Bunnies side that will be humming should test them out. Souths are one of the few teams that match up evenly, or just in front, of the Panthers. 

Paul Zalunardo ( senior journalist)

Titans (round 10): David Fifita will outplay Viliame Kikau and the rest of the Titans forwards will overpower Penrith in the middle of the field. Watch out for AJ Brimson to provide the magic that’ll prove the difference.

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Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

Penrith don’t play another genuine title contender until they meet the Rabbitohs (round 11) in Dubbo, which is where I predict they’ll come unstuck. With Latrell Mitchell firing, the Rabbitohs backline is one of the few that can outmatch the Panthers in attack.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

Rabbitohs (Round 11).  Souths will be battle-hardened after a tough run of against the Titans, Raiders and Storm, whereas the Panthers have a fairly soft draw leading up to what could be a grand final preview. The Rabbitohs backline is potent and their forward pack the equal of any team.

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Troy Whittaker (

Sharks (round 14). With this game falling two days after the State of Origin opener on June 9, Penrith may opt to rest several stars or they’ll be playing with soreness. Origin is unlikely to affect Cronulla, who should have Kiwi ace Shaun Johnson back.

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Sharks (round 14). Not in round nine, but two days after Origin I. Penrith are humming at the moment and have only the Titans and Rabbitohs as potential speed bumps before the rep period. With Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo and potentially Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Moses Leota in NSW contention, the clash with the Sharks could be their first banana peel.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

Roosters (round 15). The Panthers won't quite match last year's club record 17 wins in a row but they'll get to 14 before the Roosters knock them off. Sam Walker will take the points over Nathan Cleary in a halfback showdown for the ages and Brett Morris will snare another double to outshine Penrith's young flyers.

Kenny Scott ( podcaster)

Sharks (round 14). Right now the Panthers feel like an unstoppable force. However, they will eventually run into an immoveable object in the form of State of Origin. With their star halves in the frame for an Origin spot there’s a good chance it will be a very different team that lines up against the Sharks. 


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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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