The reigning premier Panthers and winless Wests Tigers are a total mis-match on paper but both head to Bathurst in Round 9 reeling from heart-breaking losses last week.
Having taken an in-form Sea Eagles side to the wire last week, the Tigers should be walking that little bit taller despite their 0-8 start, but meeting Ivan Cleary's Panthers off the back of a last-gasp loss to the Rabbitohs is a tough ask for Tim Sheens' men.
All eyes will be on hooker Api Koroisau as he takes on his former club in Bathurst with the skipper no doubt doing everything he can to salvage his side from suffering a Round 9 demolition at the hands of the Panthers.
Meanwhile, after being run down by the Bunnies in disappointing fashion last week, coach Cleary will no doubt have his Panthers firing as they look to get their season back on track at Carrington Park.
After a golden point victory to the Knights and a disappointing defeat to South Sydney, the Panthers will be taking the opportunity to fix any cracks that have appeared in recent performances and consolidate their spot in the top eight as one of six teams heading into the round level on 10 competition points.
Both sides have produced some spicy matches on and off-field in recent years with the likes of Koroisau, Naden, Brent Naden, Charlie Staines, Daine Laurie, Matt Eisenhuth, Soni Luke, Luke Garner and Cleary himself all connected to their opposite club in one way or another.
Match: Panthers v Wests Tigers
Round 9 -
Venue: Carrington Park, Bathurst
Panthers: Spencer Leniu is out with a calf injury and replaced on the bench by Liam Henry, in what is the only change for the premiers. Nathan Cleary is good to go at halfback, despite reports during the week that he could miss the match, while winger Sunia Turuva will play after nursing an ankle issue.
Wests Tigers: No late changes for coach Tim Sheens, with Brent Naden returning from his collarbone injury in the centres. Asu Kepaoa is out with tonsillitis, while David Nofoaluma replaces Charlie Staines, who is sidelined for 8-12 weeks after suffering a bowel perforation.
Match: Panthers v Wests Tigers
Round 9 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Jahream Bula
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Sunia TuruvaWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Tyrone PeacheyCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Starford To'a
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Brent Naden
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'oWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Junior Tupou
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Brandon Wakeham
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses LeotaProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Stefano Utoikamanu
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch KennyHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Panthers is number 10 Matthew EisenhuthProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 David Klemmer
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Scott Sorensen2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Zac Hosking2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 John Bateman
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Fonua Pole
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Soni LukeInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Jake Simpkin
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Lindsay SmithInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Joe Ofahengaue
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Alex Twal
Interchange for Panthers is number 22 Liam HenryInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Tommy Talau
Replacement for Panthers is number 18 Luke GarnerReplacement for Wests Tigers is number 18 Justin Matamua
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
- The Panthers have won nine of their past 11 games against the Tigers.
- Hooker Api Koroisau and winger Charlie Staines are the only Tigers who have played in Bathurst.
- The Panthers have won five of their past seven games in Bathurst.
- The Tigers have conceded 24 points or more in their past five games.
- The Panthers have the best defensive record in the NRL after eight rounds.
Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.