The Parramatta Eels will be out to cause another upset against Penrith on Friday night, while the New Zealand Warriors also take on Melbourne Storm on a busy night of NRL action.
The Eels are the only side to have beaten the Panthers in the 2022 campaign and they could do with pulling off an unlikely double as their top-eight hopes remain on the line.
The Panthers go from strength-to-strength and will be looking to build on their eight-point lead at the top of the ladder.
In the early game on Friday, Melbourne Storm need to snap a four-game losing streak against the Warriors in New Zealand.
Storm fans are not used to such losing streaks. Indeed you have to go way back to 2015 for the last one and some may be reaching for the panic button.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy won’t be. His experience will tell him his side can recover and get back in contention for the premiership but they need to start winning soon.
Two exciting games to look forward to on Friday night so let’s take a closer look at all four teams involved.
What: New Zealand Warriors v Melbourne Storm
Where: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
When: 18:00 (AEST) Friday 29th July 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Warriors 7/2, Storm 21/100
The Warriors have no chance of making the top eight but they still have plenty to play for and will be out to make it five defeats on the bounce for the Storm.
The biggest motivation for the Warriors players will be the fact they are back at Mt Smart Stadium for only the second time this season.
They smashed the Wests Tigers there in the first game at the start of the month and will be hoping for much of the same on Friday.
There will have to be a big improvement on the last time the two sides met when Melbourne ran out 70-10 winners on Anzac Day.
Meanwhile the Warriors have not beaten the Storm since way back in 2015. But this could be their best chance as Melbourne are out of sorts.
As far as team news goes, gun fullback Reece Walsh returns to the side after being demoted to the interchange last week. Chanel Harris-Tavita reverts to five-eighth.
Despite their horror run of form, Melbourne are still only two points outside of the top four and four away from the top two, but they need to arrest the slide asap.
Melbourne have struggled to get going in games and the opening half in Auckland could be key. The Storm have not been leading at half-time since way back in round 12.
Bellamy has named an unchanged 13 from the side that lost to the South Sydney Rabbitohs last week.
What: Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers
Where: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
When: 19:55 (AEST) Friday 29th July 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Eels 5/2, Panthers 31/100
The Eels have work to do if they are to finish in the top eight and play finals football. Just four points separate them and ninth place so they cannot afford too many slip ups between now and the end of the season.
It goes without saying they are in for a tough test against the Panthers, but they have beaten them once this season and also ran them very close in the finals last season.
Parramatta also won the meeting between the two sides at CommBank in 2020 so a Panthers win here is not a given. Much depends on what Eels side turns up.
Eels coach Brad Arthur is boosted by the return of Bryce Cartwright who has recovered from a rib injury.
CommBank Stadium is not only the home of the Eels, and it has been a happy hunting ground for the Panthers who have won five of their last seven visits to the venue.
One more will edge them closer to the minor premiership. They did have a tough game against the Sharks last week though and there are a couple of casualties from that game.
Stephen Crichton is missing after suffering a laceration to his ear, while influential five-eighth Jarome Luai has been ruled out for five weeks with a knee injury.
Sean O’Sullivan who has deputised so well in the past when Nathan Cleary has been ruled out, comes into the side to provide cover once again.
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