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NRL: Weakened Panthers offer Dragons some hope

Penrith Panthers will be missing five players on State of Origin duty, which gives the Dragons some hope of causing an upset on Saturday.

The Panthers bounced back from a rare defeat to smash high-flying Cronulla last week, and they can be backed at 3.10 to go on and win the 2024 grand final.

However they now have to negotiate the State of Origin period, and once again they are without almost half of their first team.

The Panthers have shown in the past they have players more than capable of stepping straight in and they will be out to take their chance once again at Penrith Stadium.

The Dragons are missing a couple themselves as they look to bounce back from a heavy loss to the Bulldogs, and it could turn out to be a more even contest than normal.

. What: Penrith Panthers v St George/Illawarra Dragons
. Where: Penrith Stadium, Penrith
. When: 17:30 (AEST), Saturday 1st June 2024
. How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
. Odds: Penrith Panthers 1.33, St George/Illawarra Dragons 3.35

Panthers lose five key players

It is that time of year once again where the Panthers lose half of their team to State of Origin duty.

Nathan Cleary is available for neither as he battles back from injury while Jarome Luai, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Brian To'o and Dylan Edwards are all with New South Wales.

Daine Laurie, who will replace Edwards at fullback, is among the players to come in, along with winger Jesse McLean.

McLean comes in for To’o and can be backed at 8.50 to cap the appearance by scoring the first try of the game, or 2.00 to score at anytime.

Fellow winger Sunia Turuva is in great form at BlueBet having scored seven tries in the last five games there, and is 6.50 to strike first.

It is no surprise that the Panthers are strong at home, winning 13 of the last 14 games, and even without a host of players, they will expect to keep that run going.

Ivan Cleary’s men can be backed at 2.15 to win by 13+ points.

Hunt out for Dragons

The Dragons also lose three players to Origin duty in the form of Ben Hunt, Jaydn Su’A and Zac Lomax.

All three players will be a big loss, but Hunt in particular. The playmaker is key to the Dragons side and they have lost the last 10 games without him.

Not only that, the Dragons are in poor form, winning just one game out of the last four, to leave their top eight hopes dangling by a thread.

They have also been conceding too many points, 138 over the four games, and will need to tighten up to have any chance on Saturday.

The Dragons have lost the last six games against the Panthers, and Saturday’s clash may be their best chance to snap the losing streak.

If they are to do it, it will be tight, and they can be backed at 8.00 to win by 1-5 points at Penrith Stadium.

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