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NRL: Panthers target four in a row

Penrith Panthers will begin their premiership defence with a tricky trip to take on Melbourne Storm on Friday night.

The Panthers are targeting a fourth premiership in a row, while the Storm will be one of the sides hoping to pip them to it.

Penrith are 3.75 to win the 2024 NRL grand final, while the Roosters can be backed at 10.00 to go all the way.

In the early game on Friday, the Warriors and Sharks, who will be aiming for the top eight this season, go head-to-head.

Both should play finals this season but getting off to a strong start will be key.

Warriors eye home comforts

. What: New Zealand Warriors v Cronulla Sharks
. Where: Go Media Stadium, Auckland
. When: 17:00 (AEST), Friday 8th March 2024
. How to watch: Foxtel, Kayo
. Odds: New Zealand Warriors 1.54, Cronulla Sharks 2.50

The Warriors were the surprise package of 2023 when making the top four and now all eyes will be on them to see if they can do it again.

Home advantage will be key once again and they will have a big support behind them on Friday night.

The Warriors had the edge over the Sharks last season, when winning both games, including a 44-12 win the last time they met at Go Media Stadium.

If there is to be a repeat of that dominance, the Warriors can be backed at 29.00 to win by 31-35 points.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has scored 24 tries in the past 19 NRL games, and will be a huge threat once again.

The Warriors winger is 7.00 to score the first try of the game.

The Sharks have a solid record at Go Media Stadium, but they do not start seasons well, losing the opener in nine of the last 10 seasons.

They have been handed a huge boost however with the news that key playmaker Nicho Hynes has been passed fit to play.

Panthers out to snap Storm record

. What: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers
. Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
. When: 19:05 (AEST), Friday 8th March 2024
. How to watch: Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
. Odds: Melbourne Storm 2.30, Penrith Panthers 1.62

The Storm have an amazing record regards round one fixtures – they have not lost one since 2001.

However it could get its sternest test yet when the Panthers arrive at AAMI Park for a game that has all the ingredients for a classic.

The Panthers will be keen to bounce back from the World Club Challenge defeat against Wigan Warriors and show they mean business.

Ivan Cleary’s side do not have a good record at AAMI Park, winning just one of the last eight games at the venue, but are boosted by the return of Jarome Luai from injury.

Once again the Panthers have lost some key players in the off-season, but they usually have no issue filling the void.

Sunia Turuva will be a key player for them this season and the winger is 2.85 to grab a try at anytime.

The Storm will check on the fitness of star playmaker Cameron Munster, who is battling groin issues, but Ryan Papenhuyzen returns at fullback.

A close battle looks to be on the cards and the Storm can be backed at 6.00 to win by 1-5 points.

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