On Saturday night the Penrith Panthers have one last chance to make it into the top two when they play the Sharks at CUA Stadium in the final round of the regular 2010 NRL season.
Penrith are currently ranked third on the ladder following back-to-back wins over the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs and look to have a fairly easy task on Saturday night as they face one of the poorest performing teams of the year.
If the Titans beat the Tigers on Friday night and then Penrith snare victory over the Sharks, they can finish up just one below the Minor Premiership Dragons and avoid a sudden-death semi.
But as we saw last week, the Sharks aren’t done just yet and there is still 80 minutes of footy to get through.
Cronulla may be well out of the finals, but they managed a huge upset win over the Titans when they played their farewell home game last round posting 30 points on a team hailed as one of the true premiership contenders.
But backing up after such a gritty performance and without the support of the home crowd, it is long odds on the Sharks to do it again this week and Ladbrokes.com.au have them as the $3.35 underdogs while the home side will start the favourites currently at $1.33 for a win.
The Panthers enjoyed a big win last time these two met back in Round 10 and you can expect another similar result here as the big cats have plenty still left to play for, but they must do it without their skipper.
Petero Civoniceva will sit out this game after receiving a two-match ban for a reckless high tackle from last week, meaning the captain will also miss his first finals game ever for the club next week.
Still, with plenty of other talent via the likes of current fullback Michael Gordon, Jennings, Earl and Lewis the Panthers look to have this one in the bag and the Sharks will be lucky to come within 12 points of them.
Penrith have a big back row, an adept Wade Graham filling in the No. 7 jersey and should have plenty in the tank to win this.
Footy Tip of the Match – Michael Jennings to score the Panthers first try at $5.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au
Current Head-to-Head Odds:
Panthers $1.33 – Sharks $3.35 Ladbrokes.com.au
NRLleague Footy Tip of the Match:
The Panthers have plenty of talent out wide that can run in the tries but this week we fancy Michael Jennings to score their first four-pointer at $5.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Round 26 Panthers Team:
1. Michael Gordon 2. Sandor Earl 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Tighe 5. Adriam Purtell 6. Travis Burns 7. Wade Graham 8. Sam McKendry 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Tim Grant 11. Trent Waterhouse 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Luke Lewis
Bench: 14. Daine Laurie 15. Matthew Bell 16. Nathan Smith 17. Gavin Cooper
Reserve: 18. Masada Iosefa
Round 26 Sharks Team:
1. Nathan Gardner 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Dean Collis 4. Ben Pomeroy 5. Luke Covell 6. Trent Barrett 7. Tim Smith 8. Kade Snowden 9. John Morris 10. Luke Douglas 11. Grant Millington 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Paul Gallen
Bench: 14. Adam Cuthbertson 15. Broderick Wright 16. Paul Aiton 17. Taulima Tautai