The Roosters were sailing through the middle of the season, winning seven of eight games and conveniently meeting the likes of Canterbury and Melbourne during the middle of the Origin period.
Their first real test for a few months came in round 16 when they took on a full strength Manly at Brookvale, a game where they asked the very best of the home-side before coming up eight points short, losing 24 – 16.
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They then faced the Sharks the week of the Todd Carney drama and Peter Sharp’s resignation and were un-backable odds to win. In the first half of the game, all was going to script with the Roosters leading 24 – 6.
But inexplicably, the Sharks, who had produced a stunning come-back the week before to defeat Brisbane, did the same again to run down an embarrassed Roosters 30 – 28.
Thankfully the Roosters had the bye last week and it would’ve taken them that long to get over the loss.
They’ll be back to redeem themselves here against the competition front-runners and with the inclusion of Origin pair Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner, boast a near full strength side that will have no excuses.
The underestimated Panthers recorded their seventh win from their past eight matches on Monday night, with a thrilling one point win at home over the Brisbane Broncos 35 – 34.
It was a gallant effort from the Panthers, who sit atop of the competition on 26 points, level with Manly and Canterbury, after losing Tyrone Peachey – who was filling in for regular halfback Peter Wallace, early in the game.
It was another professional performance from the Panthers whose only lose since round 8 of this season, came against the Warriors in New Zealand were they disappointingly gave up a half-time lead.
Matt Moylen, who was in spectacular form at Fullback last Monday night, will be brought into the halves for the injured Peachey whilst the Panthers leader try-scorer – Josh Mansour, has been named on the wing but is still in some doubt with an ankle injury.
The Panthers have answered most questions thrown out them this season but face another test here from a full strength Roosters side that is keen to put the disappointing loss to the Sharks, well and truly behind them.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The Roosters won both games between the two clubs last year and both in convincing fashion, winning by 24 and 36 points.
The Panthers are a better side this year though and have given the Roosters headaches in the past. Unfortunately for Penrith though, those occasions have come more often than not when playing at home. At Allianz their record reads one win from the past five matches.
Both teams have plenty to prove here and it should result in a great match, with the Roosters coming out on top but not necessarily by as much as the market suggests.
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello (c), Brendan Elliot, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Nene Macdonald, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce (vc), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (vc), Jake Friend (vc), Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Sonny Bill Williams, Aidan Guerra. Interchange: Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Remi Casty, Heath L’Estrange.
PANTHERS: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Kevin Naiqama, Matt Moylan, Jamie Soward, Sam McKendry, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Elijah Taylor, Adam Docker. Interchange: Lewis Brown, Jeremy Latimore, Nigel Plum, Bryce Cartwright, Isaah Yeo.