On Friday night another top eight showdown between two of the best in the competition will play out when the number two team, the Panthers, host the Sea Eagles at CUA Stadium in Penrith.
The Panthers have worked really hard this year to get right up the top of the ladder, winning their past four from five including last week’s 22 – 12 victory over the Broncos. It was an impressive, and no doubt tiering, performance from Penrith who are one of the few teams to beat the Broncs at Suncorp Stadium this season.
A little while ago Manly were in the number two spot, but after a couple of losses to the Broncos and the Titans they have dropped down into the fifth position. Still, they held on last week to defeat the Rabbitohs 26 – 25 and have had a number of injury issues.
The Sea Eagles will again play without their skipper Jamie Lyon who reinjured his right ankle last week, but Anthony Watmough pulled through fine and will be there on Friday night.
Petero Civoniceva is still out with a broken hand sustained in the State of Origin opener, but the Panthers have proved their depth over the last few weeks without him, and he could just be a surprise last minute inclusion.
Playing at home and with some great form behind them, Penrith will start as the pronounced favourites on Friday currently paying $1.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au, while Manly are out to $2.60.
The Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote is in fine form, and with help from Michael Jennings and co the Panthers should be able to win this one. But recent history has seen the Sea Eagles claim three from their past four here so it could be a close one, and if it is a field goal that is needed to win then Hodkinson knows all about it.
Current Head-to-Head Odds:
Panthers $1.50 – Sea Eagles $2.60 Ladbrokes.com.au
Round 16 Panthers Team:
1. Lachlan Coote 2. Michael Gordon 3. Michael Jennings 4. Adrian Purtell 5. Brad Tighe 6. Wade Graham 7. Luke Walsh 8. Tim Grant 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Matthew Bell 11. Trent Waterhouse 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Luke Lewis
Bench: 14. Nathan Smith 15. Sam McKendry 16. Gavin Cooper 17. Masada Iosefa
Reserves: 18. Travis Burns 19. Frank Puletua
Round 16 Sea Eagles Team:
1. Ben Farrar 2. Michael Robertson 3. Dean Whare 4. Steve Matai 5. Tony Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Jason King (c) 9. Matt Ballin 10. Josh Perry 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Shane Rodney 13. Glenn Stewart
Bench: 14. Joe Galuvao 15. Brent Kite 16. George Rose 17. Chris Bailey
Reserve: 18. Matt Cross