Hostplus Match Preview: Round 25
The Panthers will be aiming for a record-equalling eighth straight win when they welcome St George Illawarra Dragons for the final home game at Pepper Stadium for 2017 on Sunday.
An unbeaten streak that is part of an eleven and two record over the past thirteen matches has rocketed the Panthers in to sixth position on the ladder and in with a mathematical chance of making the top four come season's end.
They come up against a weary and wounded Dragons side that have limped to three defeats in their past four matches to slip out of the top eight. After sitting as high as third on the ladder midway through the season and eyeing off a top four spot, the Dragons have been forced in to rethinking their aspirations with other results having to go their way to qualify for September.
As has often been the case for Anthony Griffin during his Panthers reign, the return of a key figure from injury has coincided with the loss of another. Peter Wallace is named after a week on the sidelines with a broken hand to give his side a timely boost as they prepare for a fortnight without captain Matt Moylan due to a hamstring injury.
Tyrone May slots back in to the five-eighth role that he has expertly filled since his debut in New Zealand over a month ago and Sione Katoa takes his place on the bench alongside Trent Merrin who made a successful return from a knee injury last Sunday.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor has also made changes to his side as a result of injury with Euan Aitken (shoulder) replaced by Nene Macdonald after the winger recovered from a knee complaint that sidelined him for a week. Leeson Ah Mau is named to start in place of Tariq Sims who drops back to the bench, while Hame Sele is preferred to Will Matthews.