Footy fans at BlueBet Stadium are in for a feast of attacking football as the NRL's two hottest teams square off in a Round 12 blockbuster.
The Panthers have dropped just one game all season and have back-to-back premierships firmly in their sights while the Cowboys have risen from the ashes of 2021 to give themselves a legitimate shot at the club's second title.
Todd Payten's men boast the third best attack in the NRL behind the Storm and Panthers but it's their steel in defence that is most pleasing the coach, conceding just 12 points per game compared to 31 per game in 2021.
A trip to Penrith on a frosty Friday night where a frosty reception is guaranteed provides the litmus test the Cowboys need to see exactly where they fit into premiership conversations.
Panthers v Cowboys: Round 12
Panthers: No changes to the squad which downed the Roosters. Since star winger Brian To'o returned from injury in round nine, the premiers have had the luxury of rolling out the same starting 13 against the Eels, Storm, Roosters and now the Cowboys.
NRL Teamlist Video: Round 12
Cowboys: A couple of forced changes for the visitors with Kyle Feldt (knee) out for six weeks and Jason Taumalolo (knee) also sidelined. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow replaces Feldt on the wing while Coen Hess will start at lock. Jake Granville and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown are the new men on the interchange. Mid-season recruit Brendan Frei is listed in the reserves.
Match: Panthers v Cowboys
Round 12 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Taylan MayWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Valentine Holmes
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Peta Hiku
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'oWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Tom Dearden
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Chad Townsend
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses LeotaProp for Cowboys is number 8 Jordan McLean
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-HarrisProp for Cowboys is number 10 Reuben Cotter
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Tom Gilbert
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Cowboys is number 13 Coen Hess
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch KennyInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott SorensenInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Heilum Luki
Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer LeniuInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Cowboys is number 17 Griffin Neame
Replacement for Panthers is number 24 Charlie StainesReplacement for Cowboys is number 21 Connelly Lemuelu
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
Nathan Cleary v Chad Townsend: The two generals are surrounded by quality players in good form but when all is said and done the winner of this battle most likely takes home the two competition points. Cleary's return after shoulder surgery has been seamless, the champion No.7 racking up nine try assists, 11 forced dropouts, five line break assists and 80 points in eight games, The wily Townsend is proving one of the buys of the year up north with 13 try assists, six forced dropouts and 400 kicking metres per game in 11 matches.
The Panthers and Cowboys sit in the top three in the competition alongside Parramatta for set completion. The Eels lead the way with an 83 per cent completion rate through the first 11 rounds followed by the Panthers (81 per cent) and Cowboys (80 per cent).