Penrith Panthers NYC v Manly Sea Eagles NYC
Kick-off 1.35pm Sunday
The Penrith Panthers NYC side is chasing its second premiership in three years as it tackles Manly in the 2015 Holden Cup Grand Final on Sunday.
Penrith secured their spot in the big dance after beating this weekend's opponents 44-24 in the first week of the finals to earn a week off. They returned fresh from their break for a preliminary final against New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium, winning 50-16.
Manly recovered from their loss in the first week of the finals by beating Wests Tigers in their semifinal before travelling to Melbourne and clinching a one-point win over North Queensland Cowboys to book their spot in the grand final.
NYC Coach of the Year Cameron Ciraldo has named an unchanged squad from the one that comfortably saw off the Warriors. The only adjustment sees Corey Harawira-Naera move into the second row for Reed Izzard, who starts at lock. Robert Jennings will again start at centre after a successful return from injury last week.
Despite being without primary playmaker Nathan Cleary, Ciraldo would have been delighted with the performance of his young Panthers against reigning premiers New Zealand, who had put 45 points on the board against a strong Broncos outfit the previous week.
An impressive backline performance built a solid foundation for the victory with Fuimanu Enese, Jake Ennis, Dylan Edwards, Tyrone May and Jennings all crossing for four pointers.
Jennings' late inclusion in the side paid big dividends for Ciraldo and his team as he ran the opposition defence ragged on the right edge. He opened his account early in the second half after receiving a pass from Brent Naden close to the line, before later having the vision to pick out May on his inside with a delightful pass.
Manly will call upon their own young star in Tom Trbojevic, who was named fullback of the year after a stellar season in NYC. Having scored twenty tries in just twelve games, Trbojevic will no doubt play a big role for his side as they look to secure their first victory over Penrith this season.
The two teams first met in Round 6 where Penrith emerged with a comfortable 36-16 win at Pepper Stadium. A month later, Penrith would be victorious again as they ran out 42-16 winners, despite a brace of tries from Trbojevic.
After finishing the regular season as minor premiers, Penrith would take on the fourth-placed Sea Eagles for a third time this season in a qualifying final. The Panthers once again triumphed, claiming a 44-24 win after running away with the game in the second half.