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If ever there was a time to meet the ladder leaders it has arrived on a platter this week for the Wests Tigers with several key Panthers personnel embedded in the NSW Origin camp.

Michael Maguire's men also have momentum, scoring six tries in their 34-18 win over the Dragons last round. They will rate their chances more highly knowing there is no Nathan Cleary - the NRL's leading pointscorer and goalkicker - getting up to his tricks on the other side of the field.

For Panthers fans, this was the period they always feared their team would be placed under duress. But the mechanics of winning 12 games straight don't disappear with a few gear changes.

Ivan Cleary admitted it was a "new challenge" for the Panthers to be in this position but one that excited him - even if it means he returns to the spiritual home of the club he once coached. 

The rundown

Team news

Wests Tigers: The Tigers are 1-17. In-form second-rower Luciano Leilua was found not guilty of a shoulder charge at the judiciary and is free to play, having avoided a possible two-match ban.

Alex Seyfarth has been promoted to the starting side to replace Maroons Origin rep Joe Ofahengaue in the only change to the starting side from last week's win over the Dragons.

Stefano Utoikamana is the new face on the interchange bench.

Jake Simpkin and Tui Simpkins were trimmed from the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off. Kiah Cooper was the last man cut an hour before kick-off and Michael Chee Kam is the 18th man.

Winger David Nofoaluma requires two tries to equal the club’s tryscoring record.

Panthers: The Panthers will line up 1-17 as they face a massive test of their depth with Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To'o, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Api Koroisau and Kurt Capewell all away on Origin duty.

The return of Dylan Edwards (hamstring) at fullback allows Stephen Crichton to shift back to the centres and Matt Burton to move to five-eighth to replace Luai. 

Robert Jennings gets a recall on the wing while Tyrone May will play halfback and Mitch Kenny is the new hooker.

Yeo and Martin are replaced in the back row by Scott Sorensen and Matt Eisenhuth while the interchange bench has four new faces in former Eel Jaeman Salmon, one-gamer J'maine Hopgood and debutants Lindsay Smith and Izack Tago.

Prop Moses Leota accepted a one-week ban for a careless high tackle and his place is taken by Spencer Leniu.

Sunia Turuva and Kurt Falls were omitted from the reserves list on Thursday. Eddie Blacker was the last man omitted an hour before kick-off and Brent Naden is 18th man.

The Panthers have won seven of their past eight games against the Tigers.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine Laurie
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Adam Doueihi
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Stephen Crichton
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Tommy Talau
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Paul Momirovski
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 James Roberts
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Robert Jennings
  • Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Moses Mbye
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Matt Burton
  • Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Tyrone May

Forwards

  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 James Tamou
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Spencer Leniu
  • Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jacob Liddle
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch Kenny
  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex Twal
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luke Garner
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Scott Sorensen
  • Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex Seyfarth
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Matthew Eisenhuth

Interchange

  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Stefano Utoikamanu
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Jaeman Salmon
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Shawn Blore
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 J'maine Hopgood
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Tom Amone
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Lindsay Smith
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Thomas Mikaele
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Izack Tago

Reserves

  • Reserve for Wests Tigers is number 18 Michael Chee Kam
    Reserve for Panthers is number 18 Brent Naden

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Nick Beashel
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Daine Laurie v Dylan Edwards: Wests Tigers custodian Laurie gets to face his old club and their preferred fullback Edwards. Laurie is relishing the space he's finding and creating. He has 53 tackle busts so far in 12 games - in four of those he's made eight or more busts. Edwards has had a stop-start year so far, playing just seven games. But he's just as hard to pin down with 34 tackle breaks, along with his three tries and three try assists.

Stat attack

The magic of Leichhardt might be wearing off a little. The Wests Tigers have won only one of their past five matches at the iconic inner-western venue. To compound matters they have lost to the Panthers the past two times they've met at Leichhardt: 35-12 in 2015 and 26-10 in 2014. If you have to go way back to March 2000 to find a victory over the Panthers here: 22-10 when Wayne Pearce was coach.

 

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