NRL Round 24 Friday Night Preview

Penrith Panthers v Wests Tigers @ Pepper Stadium

Penrith locks horns with Western Sydney rivals the Wests Tigers in the battle of the big cats on Friday Night at Pepper Stadium. Penrith currently in 7th spot, sit 2 points above the Tigers and can just about put the Tigers out of business with a win on Friday Night. The Panthers will be looking to secure a 5th win in 6 weeks to virtually lock up their own finals spot. The Tigers will head to Penrith licking their wounds after their 1-point loss to the Titans as well as the season ending injury to James Tedesco.

Penrith have unsurprisingly named an unchanged line-up for the clash after their convincing 42-6 victory over Newcastle. Just two months ago Penrith put in one of their worst performances of the season when they were rolled by the Tigers 34-26 at ANZ Stadium. Penrith shot out to a 14-0 lead and were guilty of over playing their hand and turning over cheap possession on several occasions. Bryce Cartwright had an awful game defensively exposed a number of times for speed on the edges. Where Penrith did trouble the Tigers was with their second phase play and I expect them to try plenty of offloads again tonight. Without James Tedesco to worry about Anthony Griffin will be expecting a far better defensive performance from his side on Friday Night.

The Tigers make the short trek to the foot of the mountains minus star fullback James Tedesco, however they do get the services of Luke Brooks back at halfback. With Jordan Rankin making the switch to fullback, Josh Addo-Carr the explosive winger will get another chance in the top grade. Adoo-Carr might be raw however he is a match winner and has speed to burn. The Tigers have not been to Penrith since 2013 however it has been a happy hunting ground for the Tigers winning their last 3 clashes at the ground. After last weeks loss the Tigers have the really tough prospect of having to win their remaining 3 games to qualify for the finals. 

Verdict - I think the loss of Tedesco does swing things in Penrith's favour. Last week’s 1-point loss might have just taken the wind out of the Tigers sails and with Penrith being at home it's hard to tip against them. However I don't expect this to be one-way traffic. Earlier this season without Tedesco the Tigers managed to play really well up at Suncorp Stadium and beat the Broncos. They all managed to claw back from 18-10 without their fullback last week. Jason Taylor is building a side where they don't rely on just one player and I think they will give Penrith a tough game here. Penrith though just have a little more momentum and troops on their side here and I think they can win an entertaining and high scoring game. Panthers by 6.