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Penrith Panthers vs New Zealand Warriors NRL Finals Preview and Team News - Panthers and Warriors clash in sudden-death finals showdown

Andrew Hendrie 5 Sep 2018
  • Penrith Panthers meet New Zealand Warriors in the first elimination final on Saturday
  • The two teams have split victories in 2018 at one win apiece
Panthers face Warriors on Saturday

Penrith Panthers do battle with the New Zealand Warriors as the two teams clash in the first elimination final for 2018 on Saturday at ANZ Stadium.

The first team will be eliminated from the 2018 NRL finals series on Saturday, but who will it be as the Panthers and Warriors duel for a spot in week 2 of the finals?

Both teams come into this showdown on the back of winning momentum, with the Panthers snapping a woeful run of form to beat Melbourne away from home last week, while the Warriors made it two wins on the trot with an impressive dispatch of the Raiders.

With the head-to-head this season all square at 1-1 with both teams scoring 36 points in their respective home victories, who gains the upper hand on Saturday and keeps their premiership hopes alive?

Penrith have been under immense pressure after sacking coach Anthony Griffin while still in the top four, and after a run of three defeats, they now find themselves playing sudden death football instead of receiving a second chance.

A win over the Storm last week will give them confidence, but Melbourne arguably had one eye on the finals and were far from their best.

On the other hand, the Warriors are on a mini-roll heading into their first finals series since 2011, winning their last two games and playing some outstanding football to boot.

Playing away from home is a big disadvantage for the Warriors, but they’ve proven before they can go on a run out of nowhere in Sydney to make a Grand Final and they could easily do so again. It’s a really tough one to call as we just don’t know what we’re going to get from these unpredictable and erratic sides, but Penrith have generally been the more solid team this season and I think the can grind out the win.

Stats


  • Penrith won 36-4 in Round 17 at home
  • Warriors responded with a 36-16 victory in NZ in Round 24
  • Warriors haven’t beaten Penrith in Sydney since 2012

Teams


Corey Harawira-Naera (concussion) returns on the bench in place of Jack Hetherington for the Panthers, while Blake Green (calf) returns at five-eighth in place of Mason Lino for the Warriors. James Gavet is back at prop pushing Bunty Afoa to the bench and Leivaha Pulu to the reserves and Gerard Beale replaces Chris Satae on the bench.

Panthers: 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Tyrone Peachey, 5 Christian Crichton, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 James Fisher-Harris,

Interchange: 14 Tyrone May, 15 Moses Leota, 16 Corey Harawira-Naera, 17 James Tamou

Reserves: 18. Wayde Egan 19. Jack Hetherington, 20. Tyrone Phillips 21. Kaide Ellis

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Simon Mannering

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Isaiah Papali’i 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Gerard Beale

Reserves: 18. Leivaha Pulu 20. Mason Lino 21. Chris Satae 22. Karl Lawton

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Penrith Panthers vs New Zealand Warriors NRL Finals Preview and Team News - Panthers and Warriors clash in sudden-death finals showdown

Penrith Panthers do battle with the New Zealand Warriors as the two teams clash in the first elimination final for 2018 on Saturday at ANZ Stadium.

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