Top 4 Battle It Out

Josh Morris - Canterbury Bulldogs
Josh Morris is a key player as the Bulldogs push for a berth in the finals. Image courtesy Picture: Getty Images.

Canterbury Bulldogs NRL Logo

Bulldogs v Panthers

ANZ Stadium

Friday August 1 – 7:50 PM (AEST)




Penrith Panthers Logo

Both these teams are in similar form. The Canterbury Bulldogs and the Penrith Panthers started off the season in sensational fashion. Between them they only dropped eight games in 14 rounds. But over the past month, they have begun to falter. Last week, both teams were well below par and lost key matches to the Cowboys and Sharks. On Friday, they will battle each other to see who will stay in the Top 4.

The Doggies need to find that winning culture they had at the start of the season. They have used four different halves combinations in the last month and nothing has seemed to work. Josh Reynolds' return is a massive boost for the home side, as he adds some much needed direction. Tony Williams reverts back to the second row, with Greg Eastwood shifting back to lock. Dale Finucane and David Klemmer are on the bench, with Pat O’Hanlon and Harlan Alaalatoa dropping out.

At the start of the year, the Panthers had a plethora of depth in their roster. But as the year has progressed, injury has forced that roster to dwindle down to a bare minimum. They had four halves to choose from, but with Isaac John, Tyrone Peachey and now Peter Wallace sidelined for the rest of the season, all they have left is Jamie Soward. The experiment of Matt Moylan at five-eighth failed, so coach Ivan Cleary has gone with rookie Will Smith to make his debut. Soward moves to halfback. Josh Mansour and David Simmons both return on the wings, replacing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Kevin Naiqama. Hit man Adam Docker takes over at lock, with Isaah Yeo dropping out of the side.

Last time these two teams met, the Panthers had the goods, and with both teams is similar form, they might do it again. But the return of Reynolds might be ace in the deck for the Doggies, so honestly who knows how this one will end up.

Channel 9

Toby's Tip: Josh Mansour First Try Scorer

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