Jack Harbidge reviews the round nine clash between Penrith Panthers and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Bluebet Stadium. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: James Fisher-Harris (5), Charlie Staines (11, 66, 76), Stephen Crichton (18), Matt Burton (28), Viliame Kikau (50), Matthew Eisenhuth (79)
Goals: Nathan Cleary (7, 13, 20, 29, 50, 68, 77, 80)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Charlie Staines (Penrith Panthers)
1 pt – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Following Melbourne’s 50-point demolition of the Rabbitohs yesterday, Penrith came out with a seemingly un-matchable intensity in the first half with the intent to match Thursday’s scoreboard.
Pouncing on a Will Chambers error, and soon after forcing a goal-line drop out, Penrith’s clinical attack was put to good use just six minutes in with a simple drive over from James Fisher-Harris just under 10 metres out.
Penrith continued to heap the pressure on Cronulla-Sutherland with the excellent kicking game of Nathan Cleary and forced another goal-line drop out just five minutes later, off the back of which Charlie Staines went over for his first try in the same fixture where he crossed for five in 2020.
Penrith continued to force errors out of the Sharks and just under halfway through the half the visitors were unable to deal with a cross-field kick from Cleary, allowing Stephen Crichton to cross off the back of a fortunate bounce to Isaah Yeo.
It was a little longer between tries for Penrith, who defended any Sharks efforts stoutly in the first stanza, and Matt Burton dotted down with just 10 minutes of the half left to put the Panthers 24 points up going into half-time.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 24 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0Embed from Getty Images
The second half proved a little less fruitful in terms of points early on, with Cronulla-Sutherland getting back into the arm wrestle and the home side unable to maintain the level of clinical attack they had in the first half until opening up at the back end of the 80 minutes.
Despite that, Penrith’s pressure told 10 minutes into the half with Viliame Kikau getting on the end of a Cleary kick with a questionable ‘put-down’ awarded by the Bunker to put the rampant Panthers 30 points ahead after Cleary’s conversion.
A distinct lack of invention from the Sharks saw Chad Townsend hooked for Matt Moylan after the Panthers’ try, though the change did little to stem the overall flow of points conceded or improve a lacklustre Cronulla-Sutherland attack.
Cronulla managed to hold out Penrith for an extended period following the try but the constant pressure from the Panthers told towards the back end of the half, with Staines bagging a second half double in 10 minutes to complete his hat-trick for the game. A perfect game off the tee from Cleary saw him put his side 42-0 up with just two minutes to go.
With the game all but over, Cleary’s kicking game came to the fore once again with a perfectly judged grubber for Matt Eisenhuth to touch down just to the left of the posts; Penrith walked off 48-0 winners after Cleary maintained a 100% conversion rate with the ensuing two pointer.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 48 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0
Kurt Capewell (Panthers) – failed HIA
Jesse Ramien (Sharks) – failed HIA
Match Review Committee
Liam Martin (Panthers) – Grade 1 Contrary Conduct – Early Guilty Plea $1150, Guilty at Judiciary $1500