Sharks face defending premiers in key clash

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Cronulla went within inches of pulling off a miracle comeback against Manly on Sunday but ultimately fell 30-26.

The side trailed 30-0 with just 35 minutes to play and gave themselves an opportunity to snag an unlikely win late but were unable to do so.

Craig Fitzgibbon opted to omit Matt Moylan and Siosifa Talakai and rest Wade Graham after a troubling loss to the Warriors the week prior but the result did not come.

Penrith, meanwhile, made light work of the Bulldogs in Nathan Cleary’s return from a hamstring injury running out 44-18 victors.

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Dale Finucane is missing for the Sharks due to a bicep injury whilst rookie Jesse Colquhoun entered an early guilty plea on a Dangerous Contact charge and accepted a one-match ban.

Cameron McInnes starts at 13 with Wade Graham coming back onto an edge and Siosifa Talakai returning onto the interchange.

For Penrith, Spencer Leniu is unavailable due to a knee injury with Matt Eisenhuth replacing him whilst Zac Hosking comes onto the pine for Luke Garner.

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The sides last met in Round 19 last year with Penrith coming away with a 20-10 win on home soil thanks to tries to Dylan Edwards, Jarome Luai, and Izack Tago.

The Panthers have beaten the Sharks in five of their past six and four in a row at BlueBet Stadium.

With just three wins from their past seven, the Sharks have fallen to sixth on the competition ladder and find themselves jostling with the likes of South Sydney, Parramatta, and North Queensland for the final postseason spots.


Penrith have won nine of the past 10, on the other hand, and looked poised to contend for their third minor premiership in four seasons.

The Panthers enter this one as short-priced favourites with bookmakers expecting the defending premiers to continue their march towards the J. J. Giltinan Shield.

Game & Team Details

Kick-off: Saturday 29 July (7:35pm), BlueBet Stadium

Sharks squad: 1. Kennedy; 2. Katoa; 3. Ramien; 4. Tracey; 5. Mulitalo; 6. Trindall; 7. Hynes; 8. Kaufusi; 9. Brailey; 10. Rudolf; 11. Nikora; 12. Graham (c); 13. McInnes; 14. Williams; 15. Talakai; 16. Hazelton; 17. Hunt; 18. Moylan; 19. Iro; 20. Hamlin-Uele; 21. Atkinson; 22. Hau Tapuha

Panthers squad: 1. Edwards; 2. Edwards; 3. Turuva; 4. Peachey; 5. To'o; 6. Luai; 7. Cleary (c); 8, Leota; 9. Kenny; 10. Fisher-Harris; 11. Sorensen; 12. Martin; 13. Yeo (c); 14. Luke; 15. Smith; 16. Eisenhuth; 17. Hosking; 18. Cogger; 19. Garner; 20. Salmon; 21. Jenkins; 22. Henry


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