Palmerbet Sports Team’s Best of the Day breaks down the NRL Thursday blockbuster between the Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers.

NRL Tips – Penrith Panthers V Wests Tigers

19:50 (AEST) @ Panthers Stadium

History: Played 31: Penrith 19 V West Tigers 12.

Last meeting: Round 22, 2017: Penrith 28 d Wests Tigers 14 at Panthers Stadiuma.

NRL Round 11 gets underway with a Thursday night clash brimming with subplots. The second-placed Penrith Panthers host seventh-placed Wests Tigers – and both sides are coming off strong bounce-back wins.

The injury-hit Panthers are 7-3 after responding to their loss to the Cowboys in Bathurst with an emphatic 29-18 away win over the Knights last Friday. Gun halfback Nathan Cleary makes a long-awaited return from injury, which sees Tyrone Peachey move to centre and Isaah Yeo revert to the backrow.

Cleary squares off against Luke Brooks in a showdown that could have a significant bearing on the NSW No.7 race, while Peachey and James Maloney, among other Panthers, are also chasing Origin spots. Captain and hooker Peter Wallace is out injured, however.

Coached by Ivan Cleary – Nathan’s dad – the Tigers arrested a three-game slide with a stirring 20-12 defeat of the Cowboys in Round 10. After being towelled up by the Warriors 26-4, the 6-4 Tigers’ only loss by more than two points this year, their defensive pressure and grit returned.

In disappointing team news in-form Mahe Fonua has been dropped for turning up late to training; Kevin Naiqama returns from injury in his place in an otherwise unchanged line-up.

The Panthers have won five of their last six against the Tigers, including the last three straight, with all five victories coming by 13+ margins.

Last season the Panthers cruised to a 28-14 win at Panthers Stadium – but the 2018 Tigers are a far different proposition to the flaky sides of recent seasons.

Penrith are 4-0 at Panthers Stadium this season and have won 10 of their last 11 at their home base.

Wests Tigers’ pack will have their hands full containing the powerful, dynamic Panthers unit headlined by Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Trent Merrin, Viliame Kikau and Corey Harawira-Naera, which should prove the difference in what promises to be an absolute barnburner.

Tip: Margin – Panthers 1-12 @ $2.95