Two rounds into the competition and the picturesque Carrington Park in Bathurst plays host to a top of the table clash between the Panthers and Knights.
Both sides are unbeaten and while most expected the Panthers to be 2-0 the Knights have been something of a surprise packet with their fast start, taking down the highly fancied Roosters and then disposing of the Tigers in clinical fashion.
Winning without Kalyn Ponga was a huge step forward for the Knights who look sharp with Jake Clifford and Adam Clune calling the shots, Tyson Frizell and Mitch Barnett rampaging on the edges and Dane Gagai adding a touch of class out wide.
The Panthers are also getting the job done without their superstar in Nathan Cleary as they make a strong start to their premiership defence.
Sportsbet Betting preview: Panthers v Knights
Panthers: The Panthers lost back-rower Liam Martin (leg) on Thursday while Nathan Cleary and James Fisher-Harris are being held back for another week as they recover from shoulder injuries. Cleary had been named among the reserves and Fisher-Harris in the starting side but both will miss the Bathurst game. Star winger Brian To'o is out with a knee injury and his place is taken by Taylan May, who lines up for his second career game after debuting in round 21 last year.
Spencer Leniu will move into the run-on side in place of Fisher-Harris while J'maine Hopgood is the new face on the bench. Chris Smith comes in for Martin in the back row.
Lindsay Smith is the 18th man and Robert Jennings was the last man cut an hour before kick-off.
Knights: Kalyn Ponga won't return from the knee injury which kept him out of Sunday's win over Wests Tigers so Tex Hoy takes over at fullback. Prop Daniel Saifiti (leg) is back on deck, however, so Mitch Barnett reverts to the second row and fills the void left by Lachlan Fitzgibbon (knee).
Sauaso Sue was the last man cut an hour before kick-off and Simi Sasagi is 18th man.
Match: Panthers v Knights
Round 3 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Knights is number 19 Tex Hoy
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie StainesWinger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan MayWinger for Knights is number 5 Enari Tuala
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Sean O'SullivanHalfback for Knights is number 7 Adam Clune
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Matthew EisenhuthProp for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
Prop for Panthers is number 16 Spencer LeniuProp for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Panthers is number 19 Chris Smith2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch KennyInterchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott SorensenInterchange for Knights is number 15 Jirah Momoisea
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
Interchange for Panthers is number 18 J'maine HopgoodInterchange for Knights is number 17 Mat Croker
Replacement for Panthers is number 21 Lindsay SmithReplacement for Knights is number 18 Simi Sasagi
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Touch Judge: Nick Beashel
Sean O'Sullivan v Adam Clune: Two unfashionable and under-rated playmakes who have stood tall in the opening two rounds to lead their teams to victory. O'Sullivan may only have one game left in the No.7 Nathan Cleary returns but he has shown more enough to suggest that the Panthers will be in safe hands later in the year when Origin duty takes their main man away. Clune produced two try assists and a line break assist against the Tigers and also ran for 84 metres in a polished display.
Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards continues to punch well above his weight when it comes to the all important post-contact metres stat. Edwards has racked up 153 post-contact metres across the first two rounds to sit equal second with Eels powerhouse Isaiah Papali'i behind Roosters enforcer Siosiua Taukeiaho (176). Knights Mitch Barnett (145) and Tyson Frizell (137) both sit inside the top 10.