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Panthers NSW Cup v Illawarra Cutters
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Kick-off: 3pm Saturday

With the minor premiership hanging in the balance, the Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side heads to WIN Stadium to battle Illawarra Cutters on Saturday.

Last week’s victory over the Tigers has left Penrith in an extraordinary four-way tie at the top of the table, but in third spot on points difference.

With Mounties, Wyong and the Warriors all fancying their chances of claiming minor premiership honours, a win in Wollongong is essential for the Panthers to stay in the race.

Coach Garth Brennan has made a couple of changes to the team that beat Wests Tigers 34-20 in Campbelltown last weekend.

Isaac John has been called up to the NRL side, allowing Adrian Davis to start in the halves alongside last week’s man of the match Sam Scarlett. Front rower Rodney Coates has been added to the bench and Chris Smith has been named 18th man.

The Cutters boast a powerful line-up headlined by controversial figure Russell Packer, who is working his way towards a return to the NRL. Brennan has assigned Panthers Sam Anderson and Leilani Latu the task of stopping the big Kiwi and doing so will go a long way to containing Illawarra’s attack.

The Cutters are currently seventh on the ladder and need a big win at home to hold onto a spot in the eight and boost their finals hopes.

In one of the oddities of the NSW Cup draw, Saturday will mark the first time the Panthers and the Cutters have clashed this year. This encounter will set the tone for when the two sides meet again in a month’s time, in the final round of the regular season.

PENRITH PANTHERS | Kieran Moss, Eddie Aiono, Brent Naden, Maliko Filino, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Adrian Davis, Sam Scarlett, Sam Anderson, Sione Katoa, Leilani Latu, Topou Sopoaga, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Matt Eisenhuth.

INTERCHANGE: Rodney Coates, Brendan Attwood, Stanley Waqa, Oliver Clark, Chris Smith.