The ladder-leading Penrith Panthers have taken a major step towards securing their first minor premiership since 2003 with a convincing 38-12 victory over the Cronulla Sharks.
Penrith’s phenomenal first half proved too difficult to overcome, as they marched on to their 10th win on the trot.
Winger Josh Mansour celebrated his 150th NRL game in style, bagging a try-scoring double, making three line breaks, and running for 204 metres. Five-eighth Jarome Luai was also tremendous for the Panthers – finishing with a try, a try assist, a line break and a line break assist – whilst Liam Martin wreaked havoc on the Sharks’ left edge, scoring a try, setting one up, making two line breaks and running for 159 metres with seven tackle breaks.
It was a night to forget for the Shaun Johnson-less Sharks, with many players failing to make an impact. New halves pairing of Matt Moylan and Braydon Trindall combined for 11 missed tackles and three errors, whilst the team as a whole missed 43 tackles and made 13 errors. Veterans Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods were among the better Sharks – Dugan scored a try and ran for a team-high 182 metres, whilst Aaron Woods led the way up front with 171 metres and 32 tackles.
The Sharks will look forward to a Saturday afternoon clash against the struggling North Queensland Cowboys at Kogarah. The Cowboys have lost their past eight games and will be without superstar Jason Taumalolo, who suffered a calf injury in his side’s loss to Newcastle. The Sharks should have no issues overcoming the lowly Cowboys, who find themselves in a three-way race for the wooden spoon.