Jem Nash reviews a dominant 38-12 win by the Penrith Panthers over the Cronulla Sharks, who are now well and truly favourites to secure the minor premiership in 2020.
|3rd||Try Viliame Kikau (Panthers)||Panthers 4-0|
|5th||Goal Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 6-0|
|12th||Try Josh Mansour (Panthers||Panthers 10-0|
|19th||Try Brent Naden (Panthers)||Panthers 14-0|
|20th||Goal Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 16-0|
|27th||Try Jesse Ramien (Sharks)||Panthers 16-4|
|28th||Goal Matt Moylan (Sharks)||Panthers 16-6|
|38th||Try Stephen Crichton (Panthers)||Panthers 20-6|
|40th||Goal Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 22-6|
|50th||Try Liam Martin (Panthers)||Panthers 26-6|
|51st||Goal Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 28-6|
|56th||Try Jarome Luai (Panthers)||Panthers 32-6|
|57th||Goal Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 34-6|
|63rd||Try Josh Mansour (Panthers)||Panthers 38-6|
|74th||Try Connor Tracey (Sharks)||Panthers 38-10|
|75th||Goal Matt Moylan (Sharks)||Panthers 38-12|
The Panthers were on top from the get go, taking just three minutes to put the first try on the board when a barnstorming Viliame Kikau crashed over to take an early 6-0 lead. Josh Mansour was over nine minutes later when a pinpoint cutout pass from Jarome Luai put the winger over in the corner as he celebrated his 150th NRL game.
Liam Martin, fresh off signing a new contract, set up the next try when he busted through a flimsy Matt Moylan tackle before offloading to Brent Naden to extend the lead to 16-0. Jesse Ramien got the Sharks on the board with a strong effort out of dummy half, but the Panthers bounced back through Stephen Crichton, who caught a perfect Nathan Cleary bomb to score his 13th try of the season and give the Panthers a 22-6 lead heading into half time.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Martin once again breaking through a soft Moylan tackle to extend the Panthers’ lead to 28-6 to all but seal the result in the 50th minute. Luai then got on the board after stepping through the Sharks’ line, before helping to set up the final try through Crichton, with Mansour getting his second of the night. Connor Tracey got a late consolation try for the Sharks; it didn’t help them recover from a horror night at Panthers Stadium as they slipped to eighth position on the ladder. Penrith, meanwhile, opened up a three-point gap in first place with five games left.
Fresh off signing a brand-new extension to stay at Penrith, Liam Martin was near unstoppable tonight. In an 80-minute performance, he ran for 159 metres, including seven tackle breaks and two line breaks, as well as adding a try and a try assist to a memorable night for the young backrower.
Martin caused headaches for Matt Moylan in defence all night, breaking through his tackles to set up a try and score one of his own to help the Panthers to a big win. With Kurt Capewell not far off returning from injury, it creates some good selection dilemmas for coach Ivan Cleary, as the Panthers look to secure the minor premiership and ultimately lift up the trophy at the end of the year.
Penrith Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards 2 Josh Mansour 3 Tyrone May 4 Stephen Crichton 5 Brent Naden 6 Jarome Luai 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 James Fisher-Harris 11 Viliame Kikau 12 Liam Martin 13 Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14 Daine Laurie 15 Spencer Leniu 16 Moses Leota 17 Zane Tetevano.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: 1 William Kennedy 2 Sione Katoa 3 Josh Dugan 4 Jesse Ramien 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo 6 Matt Moylan 20 Braydon Trindall 13 Toby Rudolf 9 Blake Brailey 10 Aaron Woods 11 Siosifa Talakai 12 Wade Graham 15 Scott Sorensen. Interchange: 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele 14 Connor Tracey 16 Jack Williams 17 Royce Hunt.