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NRL: Panthers push for three-peat

Penrith Panthers will begin their quest to win their third premiership on the bounce when they kick off their finals campaign against the Warriors on Saturday.

The Panthers have had another impressive regular season and picked up their third minor premiership in four years despite strong competition from Brisbane Broncos.

Now their attention turns to the business end of the season and writing their name in the history books.

Parramatta were the last side to win three premierships in a row back in the 1980’s and now the Panthers have a chance to match them. They are priced at 2.40 to do it.

The first hurdle they face is the Warriors, who have had a great season when finishing fourth on the ladder, and will be pushing to go deep into finals.

WhatPenrith Panthers v New Zealand Warriors
WhereBlueBet Stadium, Penrith 
When16:05 (AEST) Saturday 9th September, 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsPenrith Panthers 1.23, New Zealand Warriors 4.20

Panthers the team to beat

The Panthers have once again proven they are the team to beat following another impressive regular season that saw them lose just six games out of 24.

Despite winning back-to-back premierships, the Panthers have not lost their appetite for success and a third successive title is what they crave.

And they showed in their last game that they are fired up and ready to go. Ivan Cleary’s men smashed the Cowboys 44-12 and should be full of confidence heading into the game.

The fact they did it without Jarome Luai was even more impressive.

Nathan Cleary’s partner in crime in the halves has been ruled out with a shoulder issue, which led to suggestions the Panthers charge could be derailed.

Not so. Jack Cogger proved to be a more than adequate replacement, chipping in with three try-assists, and the Panthers should have no issues there in finals.

The Panthers won by 12 points when the two sides met at Suncorp Stadium in the Magic Round back in May and it could be close again.

Penrith can be backed at 7.50 to repeat it and win by 11-15 points.

Warriors back in finals

The Warriors have been the surprise package of the season as many predicted a season of struggle for Andrew Webster’s men.

They had been mentioned as wooden spoon contenders heading into the season but finished in the top four instead, and will make their first finals appearance since 2018.

Webster rested a host of players in round 27 and it now remains to be seen if that was the right call.

The Dolphins beat them 34-10 to snap a seven-game winning streak and they may have lost some momentum heading into finals.

However they will welcome their big guns back against the Panthers and they should be rested, refreshed and ready to go again.

Halfback Shaun Johnson, who has been one of the players of the season with 27 try-assists, is among those ready to return, and the Warriors will need him.

The Warriors have a shocking record against the Panthers, when losing seven on the bounce, but they are a different side these days.

At least they go into the game safe in the knowledge they will get another crack in finals, even if they lose. It should allow them to play without fear and an upset win cannot be dismissed.

The Warriors can be backed at 10.00 to win by 1-5 points.

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