Chloe Schibeci previews the Thursday night match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at PointsBet Stadium.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Sharks continue to struggle with injuries after losing to the Sydney Roosters at home on Saturday night. They didn’t score their first points until the 60th minute, leaving no time to muster a comeback. It was Cronulla’s second loss in a row.
The Penrith Panthers lost by six to the Gold Coast Titans last Friday evening after a penalty try was awarded to the Titans in the final minutes of the game. It was their third loss of the season.
Despite leaving the field with a hamstring complaint, Andrew Fifita is named to play on Thursday night and Paul Gallen is named to return. The side is still without Matt Moylan, Wade Graham and Aaron Woods.
Sharks Squad: 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, 14. Blayke Brailey, 15. Jayson Bukuya, 16. Jack Williams, 17. Scott Sorensen, 18. Kyle Flanagan, 19. William Kennedy, 20. Braden Uele, 21. Aaron Gray.
Tim Grant makes his first NRL appearance for Penrith since 2014. Isaah Yeo is cleared of injury and is named to play. Wayde Egan starts at hooker while Sione Katoa moves to the interchange bench.
Panthers Squad: 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, 9. Wayde Egan, 10. Tim Grant, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. James Fisher-Harris 14. Sione Katoa, 15. Tyrell Fuimaono, 16. Moses Leota, 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 18. Jarome Luai, 19. Liam Martin, 20. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 21. Jed Cartwright.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Cronulla Sharks have won 11 of the last 14 matches against the Panthers, including the last four. The last time they met was in the second week of the finals series in 2018, where the Sharks won by a Chad Townsend field goal. This will be an important game for Cronulla and Penrith, who have both won two from five games this season. A win this weekend will help keep them in contention with the top eight.
Neither the Sharks nor the Panthers have had the best start to the season and will be hoping for a win on Thursday night to get their season back on track. An important match-up is in the halves. Townsend has been one of Cronulla’s best so far this season, and his combination with Johnson is gelling nicely. Cleary and Maloney have been working on their partnership for a few seasons, which has proven to be successful on multiple occasions. Another interesting battle will be Waqa Blake versus Josh Morris. Both Morris and Blake are strong players and bring plenty of skill to their teams. Sharks versus Panthers games are entertaining to watch, and this Thursday night will be no different.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday, April 18
Venue: PointsBet Stadium
Kick-off: 7:50 PM
Referee: Ben Cummins
WHO WILL WIN?
The Sharks have dominated the history between the two clubs, winning the last four games these two sides have played together. Neither side has had the best start to the season and will be hoping to redeem themselves after losses last week.
Sharks by one.