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Five Things – Panthers v Eels, Round 18

The 100th Battle of the West will be played between the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers in Round 18.

The last time the Panthers lost was against the Eels in Round Five.

Here are five things you need to know about the clash.

100th Battle of the West

The Battle of the West between the Eels and the Panthers always has fans licking their lips and Friday will be no different.

It will be the 100th time both teams have played one another and it comes at a crucial time in the season.

The Panthers have the home advantage, but the Eels have plenty to play for including a top four spot and a victory for Junior Paulo’s 150th NRL game.

Junior Paulo plays 150th NRL game

As mentioned, Junior Paulo will run out for his 150th NRL game against the Panthers.

The prop has played the season of his career and says he still pinches himself every time he plays a game.

The 26-year-old is equal first in the competition for offloads (41) and makes an average of 158 run metres per game.

Junior’s family will be watching from the stands for his milestone game.

Ladder starts to firm up

The Panthers are three points clear at the top of the table.

The Eels are third; two points clear of fourth and two points below second position.

Round 18 will start to firm up the final ladder standings.

The Blue and Gold will at least need to win two of their final three games for a shot at a top four finish and a home final.

The Panthers have the Storm on their tail and will rely on a few more wins and other team’s results to secure the minor premiership.

Moses v Cleary

Two of the best halves in the NRL come head-to-head.

Mitch Moses and Nathan Cleary have been crucial in their team’s success in 2020 and Friday night will be the greatest test for them both.

Moses is still without Dylan Brown in the halves, but Jai Field has proven he is more than up for the challenge.

Which half will take control and stand tallest in Round 18.

Team changes

Eels hooker Reed Mahoney has been ruled out from Friday’s game after suffering an AC joint injury last Round.

Ray Stone will replace him in the starting line-up with Will Smith coming onto the bench for the first time in 2020.

Andrew Davey also comes onto the bench for Marata Niukore who is nursing a rib injury.

Panthers lock Isaah Yeo will return from a head knock with James Fisher-Harris returning to prop.

Moses Leota moves to the bench while Kurt Capewell shifts to the reserves.