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It sums up the kind of year that 2021 has been that Western Sydney rivals Penrith and Parramatta will meet in the north of Queensland.

Mackay will be the venue for their week-two semi-final on Saturday night with the Panthers coming off an upset loss to Souths and the Eels building momentum after a gutsy win over Newcastle.

The Panthers have had a smooth run throughout most of the season but they were brought undone by the Rabbitohs in week one of the finals.

Parramatta have been much more inconsistent throughout the season and have a recent history of finals fade-outs counting against them.

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​However, coach Brad Arthur is confident they can still improve on their performance against Newcastle when they nearly coughed up a 12-point lead before sealing the win with a late penalty try.

The winner of this match will progress to a preliminary final match-up with Melbourne in Brisbane.

The rundown

Team news

Panthers: Brian To'o is out of the Panthers side with a minor ankle injury. Brent Naden has been named to start on the wing.

Front-rower Moses Leota (leg), fullback Dylan Edwards (foot) and interchange forward Scott Sorensen (wrist) were declared certain starters by coach Ivan Cleary on Thursday. 

To'o and Tyrone May were the two players left out 24 hours before the match.

The Panthers have won six of their past eight games against the Eels.

Eels: Nathan Brown (leg cork) is expected to play despite failing to finish last week's clash against Newcastle.

Clint Gutherson and Blake Ferguson were also hampered by leg injuries against the Knights but are in no doubt this week.

Ryan Matterson is back on deck after being left out of the 17 last week. Makahesi Makatoa drops to the reserves to make way for Matterson.

Oregon Kaufusi and Jake Arthur were omitted 24 hours before kick-off.

The Eels have not won back-to-back finals games since 2009.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Stephen Crichton
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Haze Dunster
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Will Penisini
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Matt Burton
    Centre for Eels is number 4 Waqa Blake
  • Winger for Panthers is number 20 Brent Naden
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
    Prop for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Eels is number 9 Ray Stone
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Kurt Capewell
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
    Interchange for Eels is number 14 Will Smith
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Isaiah Papali'i
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Tevita Pangai Junior
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Bryce Cartwright
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Liam Martin
    Interchange for Eels is number 17 Ryan Matterson

Reserves

  • Reserve for Panthers is number 18 Spencer Leniu
    Reserve for Eels is number 18 Makahesi Makatoa
  • Reserve for Panthers is number 19 Izack Tago
    Reserve for Eels is number 20 Tom Opacic

Panthers Ins

  • Brent Naden
  • Dylan Edwards
  • Moses Leota
  • Scott Sorensen

Eels Ins

  • Ryan Matterson

Panthers Outs

  • Brian To'o
  • Charlie Staines
  • Matthew Eisenhuth

Eels Ins

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:

Key match-up

James Fisher-Harris v Reagan Campbell-Gillard: South Sydney's middle forwards went after the Panthers' hard man on Saturday night. He finished with just nine runs for 79m in his 50 minutes of field team. If Fisher-Harris can reassert his dominance in this game, the Panthers will be on their way to victory. 

His former Panthers teammate Reagan Campbell-Gillard has been, like Parramatta overall, hot and cold this season but will prove a formidable barrier to JFH getting on a roll.

Stat attack

The 10 points the Panthers scored against South Sydney equalled their lowest output for the season. That came in Round 20 against the Storm. They've scored fewer than 20 points five times in 2021.

 

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