PENRITH PANTHERS v VODAFONE WARRIORS
Pepper Stadium, Penrith
3.00pm, Saturday, May 13 (5.00pm NZT)
After a week off the Vodafone Warriors and Panthers will look to resume their NRL campaigns in positive fashion in round 10 after experiencing disappointing opening thirds of the season.
Both sides got through the Representative Round unscathed despite providing a huge contingent to the various teams who took the field and will bring near full-strength teams to Pepper Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kiwi international back rower James Fisher-Harris comes back into the starting side for Penrith, with fellow New Zealander Corey Harawira-Naera dropping to the bench and Viliame Kikau falling out of the 17.
For the Vodafone Warriors, Solomone Kata returns from injury in the place of rookie Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in their only change, while captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will play his 100th first grade match and prop Sam Lisone will reach his 50-game milestone this weekend.
Why the Panthers can win: Losing can become just as contagious as winning, and through the first nine rounds of the season it appears that became the case for the Panthers. That is why the week off for the Representative Round – which saw 18 of Penrith's players spend time in camp with their respective rep sides – could be just what the doctor ordered. This is the ideal time for Penrith to rediscover its mojo against a team which has been up and down all year.
Why the Vodafone Warriors can win: The Panthers make a lot of errors, the most in the entire competition in fact at an average of 12.5 per match, while the Vodafone Warriors have made a habit of looking after the ball in 2017. If the Kiwi outfit can hit somewhere near itsr 76.63 per cent average completion rate then it is going to put a lot of pressure on Penrith and force it to get through plenty of defensive work. It will also go a long way to containing the Panthers' attack, which we know can be potent on its day.
History: Panthers v Vodafone Warriors | Played 37, Panthers 20, Vodafone Warriors 16, Drawn 1. The last time they met it went down to golden point, with Shaun Johnson scoring to put an end to his side's three-match losing run against Penrith. A look back even further shows the Vodafone Warriors have beaten the Panthers only twice in eight encounters stretching back to 2010. At Pepper Stadium the Panthers have won their last three against the Vodafone Warriors and scored 22 points or more on each occasion.
What are the odds: On the New Zealand TAB, Penrith is paying $1.70 head-to-head, the Vodafone Warriors $2.05. Go to www.tab.co.nz for all the latest odds.
Penrith Panthers: Matt Moylan (c); Peta Hiku, Dean Whare, Waqa Blake, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Cleary; James Tamou, Peter Wallace, Reagan Campbell-Gillard; James Fisher-Harris, Isaah Yeo; Trent Merrin. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, Leilani Latu, Tim Browne, Corey Harawira-Naera, Moses Leota, Sione Katoa, Viliame Kikau, Te Maire Martin.
Vodafone Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c); David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; James Gavet, Issac Luke, Jacob Lillyman; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nathaniel Roache, Sam Lisone, Ligi Sao, Ben Matulino, Manu Vatuvei, Mason Lino, Bunty Afoa, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Match officials: Referee: Ben Cummins. Assistant referee: Chris Sutton. Sideline officials: Russell Turner and Clayton Sharpe. Review official: Ben Galea. Senior review official: Jared Maxwell.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 3.00pm (AEDT). Sky Sports - Live coverage from 4.30pm (NZT).