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NRL: Panthers look to wrap up minor premiership

Penrith Panthers will aim to wrap up the NRL minor premiership when they take on the Parramatta Eels on Thursday night.

This fixture is a repeat of the 2022 NRL grand final, which the Panthers won, and there have been hugely contrasting fortunes for both sides since then.

Penrith look on course for more grand final success, while the Eels will not even play finals this season following a campaign to forget.

The Panthers will clinch the minor premiership ahead of Brisbane Broncos if they win on Thursday and they will take some stopping.

Even though Parramatta cannot make the eight, they still have their pride to play for and will be battling hard for the win.

WhatPenrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels
WhereBlueBet Stadium, Penrith
When19:50 (AEST) Thursday 24th August, 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsPenrith Panthers 1.10, Parramatta Eels 7.00

Panthers the team to beat

Penrith are going in search of three grand final wins on the bounce, and on current form it is hard to see anyone stopping them.

The Broncos look to be the best option, but the Panthers have been there and done it and there is no sign of them losing the appetite for more success.

Ivan Cleary’s men can be backed at 2.20 to win the grand final, while the Broncos are available at 3.50.

But the first job for the Panthers will be to wrap up their third minor premiership in the last four years and they will fancy their chances against the Eels.

It would also mean that Cleary could rest players in the final game of the regular season against the Cowboys, to ensure his star men are ready for finals.

But on Thursday he will play all his big guns with Mitch Kenny, Brian To’o and Scott Sorensen, who were all rested in the win over the Titans last week, set to return.

Izack Tago could also return after being forced to miss the last five games with a leg injury.

Eels playing for pride

Parramatta have a bye in the last round, so this will be their last chance to try and restore a bit of pride following a hugely disappointing season.

The Eels had to knock over the Sydney Roosters last week to keep alive their slim finals hopes, but failed to show up again in front of their home fans.

Brad Arthur’s side lost by 22 points to leave them in 11th spot on the ladder with an 11-12 record for the season, which is way below the standards expected of them.

The Eels lost some big players in the off-season but making the eight was still the aim and they have fallen well short.

They will now attempt to go out on a high and give the fans something to smile about, but it will be easier said than done.

Penrith have won the last eight games on the bounce and have not lost at home since 29th April.

If they are to pull off a shock, just like the Wests Tigers that day, then it is likely to be by the narrowest of margins.

Parramatta can be backed at 15.00 to win by 1-5 points.

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