2018 NRL – Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Preview

AT A GLANCE

When? Friday 13th July, 09:00 (UK)

Where? Panthers Stadium

What channel is it on? UK - Sky Sports Arena
Australia - Foxtel, LIVE PASS

Where can I stream the match? UK - Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go

Australia - https://www.telstra.com.au/tv-movies-music/sports-offer

Are tickets still available? http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=PAN1818

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

PANTHERS

Head Coach: Anthony Griffin

Starting 13: Aekins, Crichton, Blake, Whare, Phillips, May, Luai, Merrin, Katoa, Tamou, Kikau, Yeo, Fisher-Harris – Interchanges: Egan, Harawira-Naera, Hetherington, Leota – Reserves: Martin, Ellis, Peachey, Maloney, Cleary

Unavailable: Sam McKendry, Josh Mansour, Dylan Edwards, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Tyrone Peachey, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary

  • Penrith’s young side produced an outstanding performance as they blew New Zealand Warriors away last week. The Panthers had plenty of talent on the sidelines but managed to conjure up a brilliant effort to defeat the Warriors 36-4.

  • Despite naming his Origin stars as reserves, Anthony Griffin has confirmed none of the Blues trio will back-up here. That could be down to how his young guns performed last week or the short turnaround but the task of going back-to-back will be a tough ask with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak out with a hamstring injury meaning Caleb Aekins will debut at fullback.

  • The Panthers are now 7-2 on home soil with their record at Panthers Stadium slightly better with them losing just once there this season for a 7-1 record.

SHARKS

Head Coach: Shane Flanagan

Starting 13: Holmes, Katoa, Ramien, Leutele, Lee, Moylan, Townsend, Fifita, Brailey, Prior, Capewell, Graham, Gallen – Interchanges: Paulo, Segeyaro, Woods, Bukuya – Reserves: Sorensen, Seumanufagai, Feki, Flanagan

Unavailable: Josh Dugan, Jack Williams, Luke Lewis

  • Cronulla were fortunate to beat New Zealand Warriors in their last encounter before they had their bye last week. The Sharks benefitted from the officials failing to call their late try forward as they stole the win 15-18 at Mt Smart.

  • Wade Graham has recovered from a cheek injury quicker than expected and takes the place of Scott Sorensen in the second row. Valentine Holmes has been named at fullback but Sosaia Feki is on standby should the Maroons star not back-up.

  • The Sharks are 5-3 on the road this season and if they can make that 6-3 with a win here, they will push themselves right into contention for a top 4 place.

THE PREDICTION

Penrith were dubbed the ‘Panther Pups’ during commentary last week as their young side tore New Zealand Warriors apart in a mightily impressive win. Those youngsters are rewarded for last week’s effort with another shot this week and they will face another tough test in the form of Cronulla. The Sharks have steadily gone about their business this season and now find themselves pushing for a top 4 place having languished at the bottom half of the eight for most of the season. They have a decent away record with five wins from eight but the Panthers are good on home soil and have only lost two all season with just one of those coming at Panthers Stadium. It will be a tough ask for the Panthers’ young side to go back-to-back but they will be full of confidence after last week and can edge this one.