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NRL: Panthers look to extend NRL lead

The Penrith Panthers will be out to open up an eight-point lead at the top of the NRL ladder when they take on the Wests Tigers on Sunday, while Melbourne Storm entertain the Canberra Raiders and the Bulldogs face the Rabbitohs.

The Panthers sit six points clear at the top of the pile after the North Queensland Cowboys lost to the Cronulla Sharks on Friday. It means Penrith will go well clear if they can overcome the struggling Tigers.

Melbourne Storm have slipped to fourth following some disappointing results but will be in with a shout of the top two still if they can finish the season strongly.

It will not be easy though against a Raiders side that still have outside hopes of pushing into the top eight and playing finals.

In the final game of the day South Sydney will be keen to consolidate their place in the eight with a victory against the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Three games to look forward to with plenty at stake in each one, so let’s take a closer look at each match-up.

What: Wests Tigers v Penrith Panthers
Where: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
When: 14:00 (AEST) Sunday 17th July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Tigers 9/5, Panthers 11/25

Wests Tigers sit bottom of the ladder after picking up just three wins all season so it will be a huge upset if they can defeat runaway leaders Penrith on Sunday.

However they have pulled off upsets before this season. Indeed they beat the Eels and Rabbitohs and both games were at CommBank Stadium. So who is to say they cannot do it again.

They will also be boosted by the news that it is unlikely to be a full-strength Panthers side. Indeed they could be up against a severely weakened one as Ivan Cleary looks sure to leave out all of his origin stars.

Saying that, Penrith still have plenty of strength in depth with Sean O'Sullivan, Kurt Falls, Robert Jennings, Charlie Staines, Mitch Kenny, Chris Smith and Matt Eisenhuth all coming into the side.

For the Tigers James Roberts and David Nofoaluma have both been ruled out through illness, which opens the door for Asu Kepaoa to start in the centres, with Junior Tupou playing on the wing.

What: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
When: 16:05 (AEST) Sunday 17th July 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Storm 23/100, Raiders 16/5

Melbourne have been in free-fall after suffering back-to-back defeats against the Manly Sea Eagles and Cronulla Sharks and they need to get back on track against the Raiders.

Just as alarming for coach Crag Bellamy is the fact his defence have been leaking points for fun. Indeed they have conceded a total of 64 in the last two defeats.

The Raiders will be well rested after enjoying the bye last weekend and they are sure to come out flying as they go in search of a place in the top eight. They have a good looking run of fixtures coming up and will be keen to get off on the right foot.

The Storm are handed a huge boost with the news star playmaker Cameron Munster returns from sickness to play, while Felise Kaufusi is also back following personal leave. They will need to check on the fitness of Harry Grant though following Origin duty, while Brandon Smith is suspended.

For the Raiders Adam Elliott and James Schiller come into the starting side as skipper Elliott Whitehead and Nick Cotric have been ruled out.

What: Canterbury Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Where: Accor Stadium, Sydney
When: 18:15 (AEST) Sunday 17th July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Bulldogs 11/5, Rabbitohs 9/25

The Bulldogs have started to show what they are capable of in recent weeks and will be out to cause another upset against the Rabbitohs.

Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr have been key to the revival and will need to step up again if the Bulldogs are to prevail. Burton has been named to back-up from a brutal night of State of Origin on Wednesday.

The Rabbitohs have some tough games on the horizon as they look to push deep into the eight so they cannot afford a slip-up against the Bulldogs.

They have been boosted by the return of Latrell Mitchell who is fit and firing after returning from injury, while Cody Walker is also back at the top of his game at just the right time.

Cameron Murray has been left out after taking a knock to the head in Origin, while Damien Cook is rested.

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