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NRL: Panthers face big Raiders showdown

There are three big games to look forward to on Saturday as the Dragons, Raiders and Rabbitohs are fighting for a place in finals while the Penrith Panthers need to respond following a rare defeat.

The Panthers remain six points clear at the top of the NRL ladder with five rounds remaining and are still in the box seat as far as the minor premiership is concerned.

However another defeat against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday could set the alarm bells ringing and Ivan Cleary’s side need to steady the ship against the green machine, who are battling for a place in the top eight.

Six points are separating third place and ninth place and every game is vital as the battle to finish as high up the ladder as possible hots up.

The Roosters beat the Broncos on Thursday night to move to seventh and boost their chances.

However that win means that the Rabbitohs, Raiders and Dragons all need to respond if they are to stay firmly in the mix for finals.

As for the Sharks, they are still in with a chance of finishing top two, with the North Queensland Cowboys just two points ahead of them.

There is plenty at stake heading into all three games, so let’s take a closer at each one.

What: South Sydney Rabbitohs v New Zealand Warriors
Where: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
When: 15:00 (AEST) Saturday 6th August 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel

The Rabbitohs will be kicking themselves after wasting a great opportunity to beat the Cronulla Sharks last week.

Latrell Mitchell missed three opportunities to seal a golden-point win and were then hit by a sucker-punch as Nicho Hynes slotted his drop kick to earn a 21-20 win.

Souths now need to bounce back as they are currently holding on to eighth spot by their finger nails. The Raiders in ninth are just two points behind.

With games against the Eels, Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters to come, the Warriors clash is a must-win.

Taane Milne will again be missing with a finger injury so Jaxson Paulo is set to play at centre, with Izaac Thompson playing on the wing. Blake Taaffe, who has not figured since round 15, returns to the interchange bench.

The finals are out of reach for the Warriors but they still have pride to play for and they did run the Rabbitohs close in the Magic Round earlier this season.

They will be missing five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita who is out with a knee injury, but Aaron Pene (illness), Bayley Sironen (eye socket) and Jack Murchie (parental leave) all return.

What: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
Where: GIO Stadium, Canberra
When: 17:30 (AEST) Saturday 6th August 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel

The Raiders are hitting form at just the right time after winning the last three games on the bounce but they still have work to do to make the eight as they sit in ninth spot, two points behind the Rabbitohs in eighth.

The green machine have a great chance to make it four on the spin as they are playing good footy and are full of confidence. Home advantage and a large crowd at GIO Stadium will also give them a boost.

They are also up against a Panthers side that are missing star halves pairing Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary through injury and suspension respectively.

Ricky Stuart’s men also get an added boost with the news that Jordan Rapana returns from suspension.

The Panthers lost just their second game of the season against the Eels last week and will be keen to respond. Yes they are missing key players but they have shown in the past they can cope and are still a very formidable side.

Sean O’Sullivan and Jaeman Salmon will play in the halves while Stephen Crichton returns following injury.

What: Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons
Where: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
When: 19:35 (AEST) Saturday 6th August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel

The Sharks are out to finish in the top two and have a good chance as their run home is a friendly one, but they will be in for a test against their old rivals the Dragons.

Cronulla have an outstanding defensive record and that will stand them in good stead against a Dragons side that suffered a heavy defeat against North Queensland last Sunday.

The Dragons are four points away from the eight and need a win to keep their hopes alive. However they have not beaten the Sharks since round five in 2020.
Despite that loss to the Cowboys, coach Anthony Griffin has kept faith with the same 17 players.

The Sharks have suffered a huge blow as fullback Will Kennedy has been ruled out for up to six weeks following ankle surgery so Kade Dykes will make his debut and take the No.1 jersey.

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