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A full house at BlueBet Stadium will be treated to a feast of attacking football as the NRL's two hottest teams square off in a round 12 blockbuster.

The Panthers have dropped just one game all season and have back-to-back premierships firmly in their sights while the Cowboys have risen from the ashes of 2021 to give themselves a legitimate shot at the club's second title.

Todd Payten's men boast the third best attack in the NRL behind the Storm and Panthers but it's their steel in defence that is most pleasing the coach, conceding just 12 points per game compared to 31 per game in 2021.

A trip to Penrith on a frosty Friday night where a frosty reception is guaranteed provides the litmus test the Cowboys need to see exactly where they fit into premiership conversations.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Panthers v Cowboys

The Rundown

Team news

Panthers: No changes to the squad which downed the Roosters. Since star winger Brian To'o returned from injury in round nine, the premiers have had the luxury of rolling out the same starting 13 against the Eels, Storm, Roosters and now the Cowboys. Charlie Staines is the 18th man.

Cowboys: A couple of forced changes for the visitors with Kyle Feldt (knee) out for six weeks and Jason Taumalolo (knee) also sidelined. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow replaces Feldt on the wing while Coen Hess will start at lock. Jake Granville and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown are the new men on the interchange. No changes when the squad was finalised 60 minutes before kick-off, with Connelly Lemuelu the 18th man.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Taylan May
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine Holmes
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta Hiku
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Tom Dearden
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad Townsend

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLean
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Reuben Cotter
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Coen Hess

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Heilum Luki
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame

Reserves

  • Replacement for Panthers is number 24 Charlie Staines
    Replacement for Cowboys is number 21 Connelly Lemuelu

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Senior Review Official: Chris Butler

Last updated:

Key match-up

Nathan Cleary v Chad Townsend: The two generals are surrounded by quality players in good form but when all is said and done the winner of this battle most likely takes home the two competition points. Cleary's return after shoulder surgery has been seamless, the champion No.7 racking up nine try assists, 11 forced dropouts, five line break assists and 80 points in eight games, The wily Townsend is proving one of the buys of the year up north with 13 try assists, six forced dropouts and 400 kicking metres per game in 11 matches.

Stat Attack

The Panthers and Cowboys sit in the top three in the competition alongside Parramatta for set completion. The Eels lead the way with an 83 per cent completion rate through the first 11 rounds followed by the Panthers (81 per cent) and Cowboys (80 per cent).

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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