The Sharks have started their run to the finals in brilliant fashion, scoring a pair of tries in both halves to score a 24-12 win over an understrength, yet confident, Penrith side at Panthers Stadium tonight.
Penrith were the first to score after Luai kicked a penalty goal inside the first ten minutes. Penrith dominated possession and field position in the first 20 minutes, with a mix of powerful forward runs, second phase play and the elusiveness of Luai.
However it was the Sharks who scored the first try. The play prior saw Graham send Lee on a run to the line and the winger resisted the temptation to try and score, knowing it would be a double movement. On the next play they swung the ball right, where Prior passed to Holmes who quickly batted it on. Capewell cleaned up and sent the ball to Katoa who stepped inside the defender and ran in to score. Townsend converted.
The Panthers started to lose discipline, but were still dangerous, however they were unable to stop a set play from the Sharks, where Graham took on the line before turning it inside to Holmes who sliced through the defence to score a good try. Townsend again converted and at halftime, the Sharks had a 12-2 lead.
Ten minutes into the second half and Penrith crossed for a try. They were on the Sharks line when Townsend rushed up on Luai, but the rookie half stepped him, then passed brilliantly to May, who then sent Blake through a gap to score a great try. Luai's conversion attempt was waved away.
Five minutes later and the Sharks hit back. Prior with a good offload found Woods who then stormed up to the Panthers try line. The next play and Moylan received an inside ball and stepped through some lazy defence to score. Townsend converted to take the lead out to 12.
A short drop out by the Sharks was taken by the Panthers, just 20 metres from the Sharks line. A few plays later and Harawira-Naera brushed off a weak tackle by Moylan to score. Luai converted to get the Panthers back within a converted try.
But their fightback was snuffed out when Moylan slipped through some feeble defence, ran up over halfway before turning it inside to Holmes who streaked away to score under the posts and wrap the game up. Townsend converted.
Next week Penrith are on the road in Brisbane, while Cronulla head home to host Canberra.