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The Cronulla Sharks will be out to snap a losing streak when they face a struggling Penrith Panthers outfit in a rivalry they have dominated in recent times. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:50pm (AEDT).
Cronulla have had an up and down start to the season, but their last two weeks are cause for concern.
While they are still able to grind out games, the style of the club still seems to be struggling a little bit as they adapt to life with Shaun Johnson in the halves.
They haven’t been helped by injury of course, but they need to get back to basics and aim for high completion rates, and good chunks of possession if they are to get back to their best following losses to the Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters.
While the Sharks have been inconsistent, the Panthers have been consistently poor.
It’s quite amazing both of these teams have records of two and three coming out of the first five rounds, because the Panthers have looked utterly deplorable at times.
They got away with a win over the Wests Tigers a fortnight ago in golden point, but other than that, their defence in the middle third has been awful, and their attack not much better, with the combination of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary struggling to spark anything on a forward pack which is high on name power, but poor on performance so far.
Their loss to the Titans last week was a dreadful performance, and if they defend like that in the Shire, it’s going to be an ugly evening for the men from the foot of the mountains.
The Sharks hold a fairly convincing head-to-head lead in this match-up, having won 50 of their 91 matches, however, they have six on the trot against the Panthers, who haven’t won in the Shire since 2012.
The Sharks are at home again, and it’s hard to see them dropping three on the trot. While Penrith have been huge underperformers this year, they need to be almost a completely new team, especially in the middle third, to compete with Cronulla.
Sharks by 8.
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Kick-off: 7:50pm (AEDT)
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla
TV: Live, Fox League 502, Nine Network
Online: Live, Fox League 502, Foxtel app, Foxtel now, Kayo Sports, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Sharks $1.65, Panthers $2.30
Overall record: Played 91, Sharks 50, Panthers 38, drawn 3
Last meeting: 2018 semi-finals, Sharks 21 defeat Panthers 20 at Sydney Football Stadium
Last five: Sharks 5, Panthers 0
Record at venue: Played 41, Sharks 28, Panthers 14, drawn 3
Referees: Ben Cummins, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
1. Josh Dugan, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Bronson Xerri, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Sione Katoa, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Paul Gallen (c)
Interchange: 14. Blayke Brailey, 15. Jayson Bukuya, 16. Jack Williams, 17. Scott Sorensen, 18. Kyle Flanagan, 19. William Kennedy, 20. Braden Uele, 21. Aaron Gray
1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Dylan Edwards, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou (c), 9. Wayde Egan, 10. Tim Grant, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. James Fisher-Harris
Interchange: 14. Sione Katoa, 15. Tyrell Fuimaono, 16. Moses Leota, 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 18. Jarome Luai, 19. Liam Martin, 20. Malaki Watene-Zelezniak, 21. Jed Cartwright