The Panthers and Storm have been consistently among the competition’s top teams at this time of the year over the past few seasons, and once again they both sit inside the top four with the Panthers on the cusp of securing their second minor premiership in three years.
Penrith allayed fears that they would go into freefall without halfback Nathan Cleary in their side with a comfortable 26-6 victory over Canberra last week, with the performance showing the depth coach Ivan Cleary has at his disposal.
The Storm continued their return to form with a 32-14 win against the last-placed Titans, led by the brilliance of Cameron Munster, and have kept themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to the battle for a place in the top four.
Back in May when they last met it was the Panthers who came away with a 32-6 win at Suncorp Stadium as part of the Magic Round.
Panthers: Matt Eisenhuth will start in place of the suspended James Fisher-Harris while Viliame Kikau is listed among the reserves as he looks to return from the hip injury which sidelined him last week.
Storm: Cooper Johns looks set for an extended run in the halves, with Jahrome Hughes suffering a partial dislocation of his shoulder last week. Cameron Munster moves back to five-eighth with Nick Meaney returning from the concussion he suffered in Round 19. Powerful center Justin Olam is back from his COVID lay-off so Young Tonumaipe’a goes to the reserves. Tom Eisenhuth will start in place of Felise Kaufusi who will miss the game to be with his family after the passing of his father earlier in the week. Chris Lewis has been added to the bench.
Api Koroisau v Harry Grant: A month on from facing off in the Origin arena, the pair clash again at club level with their personal dual sure to be a crucial factor. Grant pushed through the full 80 minutes for the injury-hit Storm last week, topping the game for tackles made with 39 and running for 130 meters. Koroisau meanwhile was crucial to Penrith getting back to winning ways against the Raiders, scoring his side’s opening try in a 74-minute stint. He will again be an important part of the Panthers attack in the absence of Cleary and Jarome Luai.
Despite both missing key attacking weapons, these sides found their mojo with ball in hand last week following some struggles in recent times. Melbourne’s 32 points scored against the Titans in round 21 was the most they have managed since round 15, while similarly Penrith’s 26-point haul against the Raiders was the most they have registered since round 16. The Panthers and Storm are the two highest scoring teams across the 2022 season, averaging 26.5 and 26.3 per game respectively.