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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

The Rundown

Team news

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.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Knights is number 19 Tex Hoy
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan May
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Enari Tuala
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Sean O'Sullivan
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Adam Clune

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Matthew Eisenhuth
    Prop for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
  • Prop for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 19 Chris Smith
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jirah Momoisea
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 18 J'maine Hopgood
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Mat Croker

Reserves

  • Replacement for Panthers is number 21 Lindsay Smith
    Replacement for Knights is number 18 Simi Sasagi

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
  • Touch Judge: Nick Beashel

Last updated:

Key match-up

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.

Stat attack

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.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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