Penrith Panthers NYC v Newcastle Knights NYC
Kick-off 10.40am Saturday
The Penrith Panthers NYC side faces off against Newcastle Knights at Pepper Stadium in the hope that victory will be enough to secure the minor premiership. The Knights, meanwhile, need to win if they are any chance of making the top eight.
Coach Cameron Ciraldo has stuck with the same side that convincingly beat Canberra Raiders 38-8 on Monday night, however a replacement is to be named for five-eighth Jarome Luai, who will miss a week through suspension. Dylan Edwards retains his spot at hooker for the injured Soni Luke in a strong Panthers line-up.
Ciraldo would have been delighted with the all-round performance from his young chargers in Canberra. Forwards Oliver Clarke, Moses Leota and Tyrone May all crossed for tries, while James Fisher-Harris was a constant menace with the ball-in-hand.
The backline was just as potent with Brent Naden, Corey Harawira and Christian Crichton all getting on the scoreboard, clearly showing the advantages of having spent time in NSW Cup at various stages this season.
The Panthers can leapfrog North Queensland Cowboys at the top of the table momentarily on Saturday, with the Cowboys set to play later that evening.
Penrith face a desperate Knights outfit that have to win convincingly if they are to feature in finals football. Sitting two points off eighth spot on the ladder, the Knights come into the match on a run of poor form, having lost eight of their past ten matches.
Despite their recent results, Newcastle boast an impressive forward pack with Josh King and Daniel Safiti leading the way. King has averaged 125 metres this season and crossed for four tries, with Safiti averaging 134 metres as well as putting three tries to his name. Throw top try-scorer Moa Uta in the mix – 13 tries in 18 starts – and it's clear the Knights will pose a significant threat.
Newcastle will take confidence from the last time these two sides met, in round four of the competition, running out 34-8 winners on that occasion. However Penrith have been flying recently, winning eight of their past nine matches, and will be keen for redemption in front of a home crowd to maintain their momentum heading into the finals.