The Sydney Roosters have a four-game winning streak's worth of momentum behind them - and the perfect litmus test for semi-finals football comes this week in the shape of the under-fire Penrith Panthers.
With both teams looking to gain late-season ascendency as they contest for a top-four spot, this match will certainly have plenty of bearing - so prepare yourself for what will be nothing short of a blockbuster.
Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs Penrith Panthers
Saturday night will be the 101st match between the Roosters and Panthers since 1967, with the Tricolours holding a 60% winning record with 60 wins, 39 losses and a single draw.
While the Panthers claimed the competition points in Round 15, the Roosters will be buoyed by a four-match winning streak as they prepare for their next meeting.
With a win, Easts will have an opportunity to climb into the top four for the first time since Round 8, while Penrith will be looking to avenge their heavy defeat to the Melbourne Storm in Round 20 as they could potentially drop to third place.
The match will be the first outside of Sydney between the Roosters and Panthers since 1991 where they faced off in a pre-season cup match in Dubbo, and will of course be the first in the Sunshine State.
How They Line Up
Trent Robinson's line up has a number of changes following the 28-nil shutout of Parramatta last Thursday night.
James Tedesco once again takes the mantle as fullback and captain, joined by Daniel Tupou and Dale Copley on the wings. Adam Keighran retains his spot in the centres following a strong performance against the Eels, joined by Joseph Manu who reverts back after playing on the flank.
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Adam KeighranCentre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
Centre for Roosters is number 12 Sitili TupouniuaCentre for Panthers is number 4 Kurt Capewell
Winger for Roosters is number 4 Joseph ManuWinger for Panthers is number 19 Taylan May
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew HutchisonFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Matt Burton
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Sam WalkerHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Jarome Luai
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam VerrillsHooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua TaukeiahoProp for Panthers is number 17 Matthew Eisenhuth
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Panthers is number 10 Liam Martin
2nd Row for Roosters is number 15 Nat Butcher2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesInterchange for Panthers is number 12 Scott Sorensen
Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan LamInterchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Egan ButcherInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Roosters is number 19 Fletcher BakerInterchange for Panthers is number 18 Izack Tago
Reserve for Roosters is number 5 Dale CopleyReserve for Panthers is number 20 J'maine Hopgood
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
- Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara
Drew Hutchison and Sam Walker make up the halves pairing once again, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Sam Verrills and Isaac Liu take their place in the front row as Angus Crichton, Sitili Tupouniua and Victor Radley round off the starting side in the back row and at lock respectively.
The interchange bench features Lachlan Lam, Nat and Egan Butcher and Siosiua Taukeiaho, while Ben Marschke, Fletcher Baker, Moala Graham-Taufa and Naufahu Whyte have been named on the extended bench.
Penrith, meanwhile, welcome back a number of faces to their line up including Api Koroisau and Isaah Yeo, while halfback Nathan Cleary has been named in jersey number 21.
The Panthers also welcome new signing Tevita Pangai Junior, who takes his place on the interchange bench as James Fisher-Harris exits the bubble for personal reasons.
Key Match Up: Angus Crichton vs Viliame Kikau
Both Angus Crichton and Viliame Kikau are fan favourites for their respective teams; they're both in the prime of their careers and have owned their respective edges for a number of years now - and they are both heading into top form in season 2021.
With eight tries each this season, Kikau leads Crichton in linebreaks (9 vs 7) but the NSW State of Origin representative averages more metres per game (146 vs 117) and just pips his rival for tackle efficiency (92.8% vs 90%).
Two barnstorming forwards who are some of the most dominant players in the competition with ball in hand face off on Saturday night - and although they will be on opposite sides of the field, it certainly won't impact their influence on the match. This is a must-watch match up.
What They Said:
“It’s exciting. You love playing against the top teams in the competition because you can see where you’re at. The last couple of weeks we’ve been really building, and we just had a really good session on the field." - Angus Crichton
“They’ve been a consistent side for the past four or five years and we prepare for a game like they’re full strength. I’m not too sure who is playing for them this week and I don’t think that really bothers the way that we’re going to prepare for this game." - Drew Hutchison
As they continue their charge for a place in the top-four, expect plenty of fire from your Sydney Roosters this Saturday.
Trent Robinson has the Tricolours humming at the right end of the season, but the Panthers - still missing a number of key players - won't be easy beats - far from it.
Sydney Roosters Platinum Partner Unibet will be raising awareness for Gotcha4Life, who are set to forego their logo space on the back of the Roosters jerseys this week - all of which will be auctioned off at the end of the round, with all proceeds going to Gotcha4Life. You can access the auction here.
You can see our mighty Roosters take on the Panthers on Fox League (channel 502 on Foxtel), or streamed through Kayo, which will be part of a Suncorp Stadium triple-header, with New Zealand taking on Cronulla at 3pm, while Manly and Melbourne kick off at 7:30pm.