Rivalry Spanning Almost Two Decades

Sonny Bill Williams - Sydney Roosters
Old foes, the Roosters and the Panthers, rumble on Saturday. Picture: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au

Sydney Roosters Logo

Roosters v Panthers

Allianz Stadium

Saturday July 19 – 3:05 PM (AEST)




Penrith Panthers Logo

It’s a rivalry which goes back to the Brad Fittler and Phil Gould days. After the Penrith Panthers won their first premiership in 1991, the Sydney Roosters decided they wanted to emulate their success. So first they poached their coach Phil Gould in 1994. Then in 1996 they grabbed, at the time, the game’s best player in Brad Fittler. While they never achieved success together at the Roosters, “Freddy” Fittler did win a Grand Final with the Roosters in 2002. Then the following year, the rivalry was reignited, when the Panthers beat the Roosters in the 2003 Grand Final 18-6. Over the past decade, they have had some epic battles, and Saturday will be no different.

Matt Moylan is a superstar on the rise. Since debuting for the Panthers last year, he's proven he can handle the big time and be the catalyst for Penrith. Twice this year, he has been the game winner for them, kicking a field goal last Monday against the Broncos, and kicking a sideline conversion to beat the Bulldogs in Round 3. Coach Ivan Cleary believes he will only get better, which is a scary thought for all the other NRL teams. Moylan slots into five-eighth to cover for Tyrone Peachy (pectoral) and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak comes into the side at fullback. Josh Mansour has been named, but is in doubt with an ankle injury. Isaah Yeo has been named as the 18th man.

The Roosters have lost a lot of fire power from the Origin period. Winger Daniel Tupou will be out for six weeks with a back injury, while centre partner Michael Jennings has also missed a month of footy with a back complaint, and isn’t expected to return for at least another two weeks. Coach Trent Robinson has the depth to cover for these two, but they still leave a massive hole in the backline. Tupou is sensational in the air and Jennings' blistering pace is unmatched at times. To add to their woes, superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is set to miss Saturday's match with concussion. Mitch Aubusson and Nene Macdonald retain their spots to cover for Jennings and Tupou, while Brendan Elliot jumps on the wing for Tuivasa-Sheck. Aiden Guerra and Boyd Cordner return from Origin duty, with Isaac Lui and Dylan Napa relegated to the bench. 

While the Panthers are flying high after a thrilling win over the Broncos, the Roosters are coming off two straight losses before a bye last week. The Panthers may be missing some key players, but if Moylan and Jamie Soward can work together, the Panthers will be heading back to Penrith very happy men.

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Toby's Tip: Panthers 1-6

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