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2015 NRL Match Preview: Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks

Date: Sunday April 26 2015

Venue: Pepper Stadium

Kick-Off: 2pm

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. George Jennings 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Api Koroisau 7. Isaac John 8. Sam Mckendry 9. James Segeyaro 10. Jeremy Latimore 11. Sika Manu 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Nigel Plum. Interchange: 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Sam Anderson 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 17. Bryce Cartwright 18. Tupou Sopoaga 19. Will Smith 22. Robert Jennings

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Gerard Beale 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Michael Gordon 6. Jack Bird 7. Jeff Robson 8. Matt Prior 9. Michael Ennis 10. Chris Heighington 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Anthony Tupou 16. Ben Barba 17. Tinirau Arona 21.Sam Tagataese

Preview

Paul Gallen has withdrawn late this week from Cronulla’s side to take on Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Sunday.

This is a huge blow for the Sharks who were expecting their leader to return after missing Monday night’s win over Premiers South Sydney in cyclonic conditions at Remondis Stadium.  It’s unknown when Gallen will return from a hip injury which means his chances of playing next weekend’s ANZAC test are gone.

After three straight wins, Cronulla head into this match as favourites against an injury plagued Penrith Panthers side.  The home side will welcome back Elijah Taylor and Dean Whare from injury and reports late this week give James Segeyaro’s chances of playing some hope after being ruled out for four weeks with an injured elbow.  Things should improve for the club post rep round with Jamie Soward to return from back surgery.

Expect this game to be physical with the battle up front featuring Sam McKendry, Sika Manu and Nigel Plum up against former Panthers Luke Lewis and Wade Graham.  With neither Fifita brother in the side and Gallen’s withdrawal, the Panthers might have a slight advantage.  The contest between Michael Ennis and Segeyaro will be fascinating if it eventuates.

It could come down the final half hour where the game is won.  Expect Matt Moylan to combine with his centres Dean Whare and Waqa Blake to produce the overlap in the back line.  For Cronulla it could be the experience of Michael Gordon who guides his side home.

Either side with victory will go to four wins and four losses for 2015 and remain in touch with the top sides.

Prediction Penrith to break their three year Cronulla hoodoo with a hard fought win.  The late withdrawal of Gallen will hurt the Sharks.  Panthers by 6

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