Preparing for battle

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He who says “it’s only a trial” clearly does not understand the bitter rivalry that exists between the Panthers and the Eels.

Let’s face it, we hate those slimy creatures from just up the road more than words can express.

On Saturday night, the Panthers and Eels play the now-annual ‘Battle of the West’ trial at Centrebet Stadium, to kick-off at the family-friendly time of 5pm.

What won’t be friendly is the battle on the field.

This is the final hit-out before the real deal commences in a fortnight and both teams will field squads that are close to full strength for the clash.

Panthers halfback Luke Walsh will miss the match due to injury, while new recruit Sika Manu will make his debut.

For the Eels, pride and hope is on the line after they were handed a spanking by the Wests Tigers last weekend.

Meanwhile, Penrith will be looking to make it three from three in the trials after wins over the Tigers and Warriors.

More importantly, rugby league bragging rights are on the line.

Panthers squad: Blake Austin, Lewis Brown, Lachlan Coote, Adam Docker, Tim Grant, Tom Humble, Kevin Kingston, Jeremy Latimore, Josh Mansour, Sika Manu, Sam McKendry, Wes Naiqama, Clint Newton, Nigel Plum, James Segeyaro, David Simmons, Ryan Simpkins, Hathan Smith, Brad Tighe, Dean Whare.

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