The Panthers are looking to defend their premiership but first have to encounter an in-form Rabbitohs to earn a Grand Final berth.
BetDeluxe analyses both teams and gives you the best tips ahead of this Friday night’s big clash.
Penrith vs. South Sydney
September 24th 7:50pm
It has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster. This all-conquering powerhouse has done everything right to win a second successive premiership against the underdog that has to secure another unlikely win after a history of rising from the dead.
South Sydney wasn’t tipped to get this far but have been intent on forging their destiny with finals wins against the more fancied Sydney and Cronulla to win their way to yet another preliminary final.
Alex Johnston has been a star for the Bunnies this season, becoming the first player to score 30 tries in successive seasons and has been one of the dominant players in the league this season. He has a severe injury cloud hanging over him this week, racing against the clock to recover from a hip flexor injury. It’s hard to think he’ll be at 100 per cent if he does make it onto the park, which is a significant setback for the Rabbitohs. This all places extra expectation on Lattrell Mitchell to rise to the occasion as he has done so often in recent times for South Sydney despite getting some serious attention from both sides of the fence.
Mitchell is a confidence player and seems to be saying all the right things in the lead-up. But talk is cheap when it comes to finals football, and he has to once again let his actions on the park speak for himself.
It takes a full-strength team to challenge Penrith, who have fresh legs after last week’s break and a fit and hungry Nathan Cleary leading the charge.
Cleary was the driving force behind the week one win over Parramatta and, as one of the game’s elite players, can take his reputation up a notch in the next two weeks.
Lachlan Ilias has a big responsibility on his hands as Cleary’s match-up and takes plenty of form of his own into this game. If he can nullify Cleary and have an impact himself, the Panthers might have a weak point that can be exposed.
But Penrith didn’t get to where they are now on the back of one player and need another big effort from the likes of Apisai Koroisau and James FIsher-Harris, among others, to continue their winning ways.
The experts are on board the Panther train; they’ve done it all before, everything has gone right for them, and they have the talent and depth in their team. Ivan Cleary has driven an incredible system at Penrith this season, and they should win through to the Grand Final and a chance at defending their crown.
Suggested Bet: Penrith to win by 1-12 points at $3.00