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NRL: Souths out to break Panthers hoodoo

Week two of the 2023 NRL season gets underway with a repeat of last season’s Grand Final as the Penrith Panthers take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Rugby League fans were treated to a spectacle in the opening round of the NRL and if that is a sign of things to come then 2023 could be off the charts. It looks set to be another exciting week of NRL action with some big games to looks forward to, but it does not get much better than the Panthers versus Rabbitohs.

The Panthers may have won the Grand Final against the Rabbitohs, but this is a new season and it all starts again. The reigning premiers lost the opening game against the Broncos after losing a couple of key players.

Souths ace Latrell Mitchell has already stoked the fire by suggesting the cracks are there for the Bunnies to exploit. Penrith will be even more fired up to bounce back under the lights at BlueBet Stadium and we should be in for a fiery, exciting clash.

The Panthers have won nine of the last 10 games against South Sydney and will be out to keep the run going, while Souths have a great chance to pull one back. So with kick-off fast approaching let’s take a closer look at both teams heading into the game.

What:Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Where:BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
When:20:00 (AEST) Thursday 9th March 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds:Panthers 1.56, Rabbitohs 2.45 

The form book

There has been one round of the regular season so it is far too early to say how the Panthers and Rabbitohs will perform this season. However there has to be some concern among the Penrith faithful as their team attempt to pull off the three-peat and win another Grand Final.

They were disappointing in the 13-12 loss to the Brisbane Broncos at BlueBet Stadium last week and that defeat also came on the back of the World Club Championship loss against English Super League side St Helens.

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Ivan Cleary’s men will be desperate to bounce back with a win on Friday night and there would be no better side to do it against than South Sydney. At 8.00 Souths are one of the hot fancies to go on and win the Grand Final this season and they got the campaign off to a good start in week one.

The Rabbitohs saw off the Cronulla Sharks 27-18 on their own patch to put down an early marker for the season. They should be full of confidence and will be out to back it up against the Panthers.

Sorensen missing for Panthers

Penrith will be forced in to one change for the clash as Scott Sorensen misses out through concussion. It means Matt Eisenhuth has been called up and will take his place on the bench. It is the only change that Cleary makes to his side.

All eyes will again be on the Panthers to see if they can adjust to life without Viliame Kikau and Api Koroisau who have both been sorely missed so far. Soni Luke could be pushing to start after impressing off the interchange last week. Sunia Turuva was also a big plus in the defeat to the Broncos.

Turuva can be backed at 9.50 to score the first try on Friday night.

Two changes for the Bunnies

South Sydney have made two changes to the squad that beat the Sharks last week. Again both have been enforced as Tevita Tatola suffered a concussion and Jai Arrow a hamstring injury. Daniel Suluka-Fifita and Jed Cartwright have come into replace them.

Souths were on fire against the Sharks with Mitchell, Lachlan Ilias and Cody Walker all standing out and the trio could again prove to be the difference against the Panthers. Mitchell can be backed at 3.10 to score a try at anytime during the match, with winger Alex Johnston the main danger for the Bunnies at 2.10.

Key match-up

There are two and both are in the halves. Souths No.7 Ilias was electric against the Sharks and is expected to get better and better in 2023. He will be up against the best in the game in the form of Nathan Cleary and it will be interesting to say the least.

So too will the battle between the two No.6’s, Jarome Luai for the Panthers and Walker for Souths. There is a good chance of there being some fireworks at BlueBet Stadium.

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