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NRL first elimination final preview – Panthers vs Warriors

Regular Season Finish:
Penrith Panthers: 5th
New Zealand Warriors: 8th

Premiership Odds:
Penrith Panthers: $21
New Zealand Warriors: $19

Round 25 Result:
Penrith Panthers: defeated the Melbourne Storm, 22 – 16
New Zealand Warriors: defeated the Canberra Raiders, 20 – 16

Kick off at ANZ Stadium from 5.30pm

Two of the more mercurial teams in the NRL meet on Saturday in a do-or-die clash in the heart of Sydney.

The Penrith Panthers have been in turmoil off the field but their spirited final regular season win will boost their confidence heading into the cut-throat final.

The Panthers defeated a depleted Melbourne Storm on their home deck in round 25 to secure fifth spot on the ladder.

The New Zealand Warriors have shown true flashes of brilliance throughout 2018 but a disappointing end to the season saw the Kiwis slip to eighth place on the ladder.

The Kiwis come into the match up after defeating the hard-to-beat Raiders last week, which should be the perfect tune up for the elimination final.

Which team will reign supreme in this Trans-Tasman battle on Saturday afternoon?

Team line ups

Penrith Panthers

1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Christian Crichton 6. James Maloney (c) 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Trent Merrin 9. Sione Katoa 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. James Fisher-Harris

Interchange: 14. Tyrone May 15. Moses Leota 16. Corey Harawira-Naera 17. James Tamou

New Zealand Warriors

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Agnatius Paasi 11. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Simon Mannering

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Isaiah Papali’i 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Gerard Beale

Players to watch

Panthers – Nathan Cleary

Cleary has been one of the shining lights for the Panthers this season and he will be providing the spark for his side on Saturday. The NSW representative plays with desperation and passion, two attributes Penrith has lacked over the last two months of the season.

Warriors – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

How could we not include the Dally M Medal favourite heading into Saturday? The playmaker is the key to this game and if he hits his straps as expected it will go a long way to securing the win for the Kiwis.

Panthers vs Warriors – Who wins?

Where to go with this one is the biggest question of the first week of finals.

The Panthers won well against the Storm last week and will be undoubtedly up and about for this one, but it’s tough to ignore their poor form over the last month of footy.

The Warriors last week knocked off the Canberra Raiders, a side that had caused havoc in the final weeks of the season for finalists.

We’re backing the Warriors to ride the wave of momentum into the second week of the finals.

Result: New Zealand Warriors – $2.15