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NRL: Storm out to lock in top four

Melbourne Storm can secure a place in the top four with a victory over the Sydney Roosters on Friday night while the Penrith Panthers also take on the New Zealand Warriors.

With just two games of the regular season to play both the Storm and Roosters are desperate to get the two points so we are in for a classic at AAMI Park.

Melbourne can lock in a top-four spot while the Roosters can also guarantee their place in the top eight so the stakes are very high. Both sides come into the game on the back of impressive wins but something will have to give.

As for the Panthers, they already have the minor premiership in the bag but will want to keep confidence levels high by seeing off the Warriors in the early game at BlueBet Stadium.

The Warriors are playing for pride following a disappointing campaign and an upset win could give them hope ahead of the 2023 NRL campaign.

Two cracking games of NRL footy to look forward to so let’s take a closer look at each match-up ahead of the action.

What: Penrith Panthers v New Zealand Warriors
Where: BlueBet Stadium, Sydney
When: 18:00 (AEST) Friday 26th August 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel

The Panthers may already have the minor premiership in the bag with two games remaining but they will be keen to put on a show in front of their home fans on Friday night.

Ivan Cleary’s men will receive the J.J Giltinan Shield after the game and a shock defeat would certainly take the shine off the moment.

They were outstanding when beating South Sydney 26-22 on their own patch last week so you have to fear for the Warriors.

The next couple of games will be a balancing act for the Panthers as they get ready for the cut and thrust of finals.

Cleary will be keen to keep his players fresh without losing sharpness ahead of finals and it will be interesting to see what kind of side he puts out against the Warriors.

One player in need of minutes is Jarome Luai and he is set to return from injury ahead of schedule.  It was thought he would only be back for finals but the knee issue that has kept him out for the last few weeks has cleared up.

The Panthers are also boosted by the return of star forward James Fisher-Harris from suspension.

The Warriors have had a tough season but sank to new depths last week when they were thrashed 48-4 by the high-flying Cowboys.

Interim coach Stacey Jones questioned the attitude of his players but due to a lack of bodies he cannot ring the changes and they will get a chance for redemption on Friday night.

The Warriors have lost the last five games against Penrith, including a 40-6 loss back in round 15, so it is going to take some effort to turn things around.

What: Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
When:  19:55 (AEST) Friday 26th August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Storm 3/5, Roosters 27/20

The clash between the Storm and the Roosters has all the makings of a classic as both sides are desperate to get the win.

They are also both in good form. Last week the Storm were sensational as they smashed the Broncos 60-12 at Suncorp Stadium, while the Roosters were equally as impressive when beating Wests Tigers 72-6 at the SCG.

Confidence should be sky-high in both camps and will hopefully lead to a great game.

The Storm know that two points will secure fourth spot, but a defeat will leave them vulnerable as they have to play Parramatta, who are just two points behind, in the final game of the season.

So they will be keen to get the job done on Friday night. They will welcome back Felise Kaufusi who has been missing for personal reasons, but winger Xavier Coates is a doubt after suffering a head knock against Brisbane.

The Roosters on the other hand sit in seventh place on the ladder but are not guaranteed a place in the eight just yet as the Canberra Raiders in ninth are finishing strong.

They also have to play the Rabbitohs in the final game of the season.

Coach Trent Robinson is however boosted by the return of experienced forwards Lindsay Collins (concussion) and Siosiua Taukeiaho (cheekbone), who will take a place on the bench.

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