Wests Tigers Tarsha Gale side will look to finish the regular season on a winning note when they take on the sixth-placed Penrith Panthers this Friday night for their Round 9 clash.
In a treat for rugby league fans, the Tarsha Gale contest between Wests Tigers and Penrith will be played at Panthers Stadium prior to the highly-anticipated NRL game with both sides desperate for two points heading in to next week's finals.
Currently sitting in fourth position but just two points behind the ladder-leading Illawarra Steelers, Wests Tigers could feasibly finish second with a win on Friday — the second-placed Newcastle Knights facing off against the third-placed Parramatta Eels, who both head in to Round 9 level on 12 points with Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers can't drop out of the top four as they sit four points clear of the fifth-placed Dragons, but will be keen to move further up the ladder ahead of the finals next week, with a win in next week's Preliminary Final giving them a week off and through to the Qualifying Final — the same position that they finished in 2018.
Ladder position will be crucial for the visitors, who have suffered tight defeats to the top two teams in Illawarra and Newcastle but did record a win over Parramatta, and securing the two points on Friday would go a long way to finishing in the top two.
Match: Wests Tigers v Panthers
Round 9 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
On paper, Wests Tigers and Penrith look very similar heading in to Friday's game. Each team averages 25 points per game in attack, while the visitors have a slight defensively — conceding an average of 17 points per game compared to 21.
Janaya Bent and Mamana Alatini (six tries in eight games each) loom as try-scoring options to watch for Wests Tigers, along with Litiana Smith-Warwick (five tries).
When the two teams met at Penrith last year, it was Wests Tigers who emerged with a thrilling 20-18 victory, and they'll no doubt be hoping for the same result this week.