Penrith will be seeking back to back Holden Cup Grand Final victories when they taken on the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
They held off a gallant North Queensland Cowboys outfit 32-16 at Allianz Stadium to make the Grand Final. Their season looked on the ropes after Braidon Burns was sin-binned as the Cowboys got within six points midway through the second half. But the Panthers steadied to make their way through to the decider.
It has been another dominant season for the Panthers at Holden Cup level finishing five points clear at the top which included a sixteen game unbeaten streak.
After a mini form slump which saw them lose to Newcastle and the Wests Tigers followed by an unconvincing win against Gold Coast at CBUS Super Stadium, Cameron Ciraldo’s men are looking for their sixth win in a row.
This team is a close resemblence to the side that played on the first weekend of the season in Canberra with the notable exceptions of Robert Jennings and Nathan Cleary.
Expect fullback Dylan Edwards and captain Oliver Clark to lead from the front with hooker Soni Luke to be influential for the mountain men.
For the first time since the National Youth Competition started in 2008 the Sydney Roosters have made the Grand Final.
In their Grand Final qualifier against St George-Illawarra Dragons they overcame a 14-0 deficit at half time to win 20-16. The winner coming from Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, the brother of former Rooster Roger.
They have made it to Grand Final day the tough way having to play eliminations final footy every week of the final series in recording wins over Canberra Raiders (48-0), Cronulla Sharks (28-18) and the Dragons.
Just like Nathan Cleary has gone onto the NRL stage, the Sydney Roosters will be without Connor Watson and Jackson Hastings.
However with three NRL games under his belt, Joseph Manu will be a key player to the Roosters chances of winning their maiden title.
Both fixtures this season have seen the Panthers come out on top over the Roosters.
In round 7 at Allianz Stadium Edwards, Tyrone May and Ratu Tuisese scored doubles as Penrith thrashed the Roosters 50-4.
Round 22 at Pepper Stadium was a closer affair with the home side in a seven tries to four victory 40-22.
Penrith are short priced favourites with the bookies to draw level with three Holden Cup titles alongside the New Zealand Warriors.
Earlier in the season the NRL confirmed the competition would go ahead in 2017 despite the high running costs and questions over whether it was good stepping stone to the top grade.
With the likes of Cleary, Watson and Kalyn Ponga coming through the ranks it seems the pundits might be wrong about the age-based competition.
Kick-off is at 1:35pm AEST, 12:35pm Brisbane
|Penrith Panthers||Sydney Roosters|
|1||Dylan EDWARDS||1||Kiah COOPER|
|2||Ratu TUISESE||2||Bernard LEWIS|
|3||Christian CRICHTON||3||Joseph MANU|
|4||Braidon BURNS||4||Jarred ANDERSON|
|5||Daniel BROWN||5||Johnny TUIVASA-SHECK|
|6||Tyrone MAY||6||Paul MOMIROVSKI|
|7||Dean BLORE||7||Jesse MARSCHKE|
|8||Cowen EPERE||8||Poasa FAAMAUSILI|
|9||Soni LUKE||9||Grant GARVEY|
|10||Oliver CLARK (c)||10||Ben THOMAS|
|11||Kaide ELLIS||11||Reuben PORTER|
|12||Corey WADDELL||12||Victor RADLEY|
|13||Reed IZZARD||13||Nat BUTCHER|
|14||Wayde EGAN||14||Brendan FREI|
|15||Liam MARTIN||15||Sitili TUPOUNIUA|
|16||Thomson TUIGAMALA||16||Jarrett BOLAND|
|17||Jack NELSON||18||Sukamanu RAKI|
|18 Dylan FUAD||19 Luke CHALKER
20 Joseph RATUVAKACEREIVALU
21 Ben MARSCHKE
|Coach||Cameron CIRALDO||Coach||Anthony BARNES|
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Assistant referee: Drew Oultram. Sideline officials: Dave Ryan and Josh McGowan. Review official: Jason Robinson. Senior RO: Luke Patten.