Round 20: Bulldogs v Panthers preview
Canterbury-Bankstown look to end a forgettable 2020 on a high, clashing with Minor Premiers Penrith, who have a premiership in their sights, at ANZ Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Let's call this the Trent Barrett Cup, as the Panthers assistant coach continues his preparations to take over at Belmore in 2021.
The Bulldogs head into this clash on the back of their best performance of the season, knocking off South Sydney in the upset of the season. Racking up a 20-0 lead by the half-hour mark, they showed some rare composure to hold on to defeat the Rabbitohs 26-16.
Coach Steve Georgallis has named an almost unchanged side for this week, with the only change to be confirmed after Tim Lafai copped a one match suspension on Tuesday night. Club stalwart Aidan Tolman plays his final final game for the club.
James Tamou, Api Koroisau and Zane Tetevano come back into the side after missing last week's professional win over the Cowboys. Daine Laurie, Matt Burton and Zane Tetevano also come into the Panthers side.
Penrith will be looking to fine tune their attack and defence in the lead in to the finals series, whilst the Bulldogs will know if they have to get a win or not to avoid the wooden spoon by the time 3pm Saturday comes around.
Who to watch: Luke Thompson had his first game at prop for the Bulldogs last week, and showed plenty of grunt. With 13 runs, 132 metres, and 70 post-contact metres in his 55 minutes on the field, another week playing in his preferred position will do him the world of good, as he finds his feet in the NRL.
Panthers winger Brian To'o has scored a try in 3 of the last 4 games, and he'll look to add to that tally this week, his battle with Jayden Okunbor sure to be an intriguing one.
The favourite: Penrith are top of the pile, the Bulldogs are clinging for dear life in second last.
My tip: These final round matches always throw up something strange, however I think the Bulldogs used up their "massive upset" ticket on the Souths game last week. I expect a professional 80 minute performance from a Penrith side with bigger fish to fry in 2020. Penrith by 18.