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Penrith will be looking to strengthen their grip on second place against a Wests Tigers side searching for motivation after their finals campaign ended in humiliating fashion.

The Panthers, nearing full strength with key players returning each week, are regaining momentum at the perfect time after a rash of injuries caused Ivan Cleary's well-oiled machine to sputter.

The side's come-from-behind 25-12 win over Souths on Friday night was a wonderful dress rehearsal for Penrith's week on finals rematch with the Rabbitohs.

Nothing in 13th-placed Wests Tigers' implosion against Cronulla with their season on the line suggests that they will offer much of a challenge.

The rundown

Team news

Panthers: In a minor change announced an hour before kick-off, Liam Martin moves into the starting side with Viliame Kikau dropping back to the bench.

Tyrone May will be on the interchange bench and Izack Tago is the 18th man.

Dylan Edwards (head knock) will play despite being injured in a nasty collision with Viliame Kikau last week.

Brian To'o (ankle) and James Fisher-Harris (personal reasons) will play their first games since round 19 with Brent Naden and Matt Eisenhuth dropping out of the squad to accommodate their return.  

Fisher-Harris was held back from a return last week after limited training post-quarantine in Queensland but will play.

Taylan May and Charlie Staines were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

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

Wests Tigers: Michael Maguire's team will start 1-17 with Zac Cini the 18th man. 

Jock Madden replaces Adam Doueihi in the halves with the Lebanon international returning to Sydney for scans on a knee injury. 

Billy Walters and Tuki Simpkins were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

The Tigers are aiming for back-to-back wins against the Panthers for the first time since 2013.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses Mbye
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Stephen Crichton
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Tommy Talau
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Matt Burton
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Michael Chee Kam
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Ken Maumalo
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Jock Madden
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Thomas Mikaele
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jacob Liddle
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Stefano Utoikamanu
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Kurt Capewell
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Shawn Blore
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 17 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex Twal

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Joe Ofahengaue
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Jake Simpkin
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Tevita Pangai Junior
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Tom Amone
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 20 Tyrone May
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Alex Seyfarth

Reserves

  • Reserve for Panthers is number 18 Izack Tago
    Reserve for Wests Tigers is number 21 Zac Cini

Match Officials

  • Referee: Matt Cecchin
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein

Last updated:

Key match-up

Matt Burton v Tommy Talau: The back-up Panthers playmaker has taken his chances in the centres in stunning fashion, scoring 10 of his 15 tries in this breakthrough season in the outside backs. His Wests Tigers rival is no slouch in the try-scoring department either, tallying 10 four-pointers including one in each of his past three games. 

Stat attack

Nathan Cleary is more than 150 metres clear of second-placed Daly Cherry-Evans in kick meters despite having played six fewer games (14 to 20) and a mammoth 606 ahead of third-placed Adam Reynolds who has made 21 appearances in 2021.

 

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