NYC Preview - Sharks v Panthers #NYCCROPEN

Sharks NYC coach Dave Howlett described it after the game as a vast improvement on the week before, however the hard facts were his team still came up short against the Roosters last Saturday despite a spirited effort.

Against a Roosters side touted as being one of the competition favourites, the Sharks led 24-18 midway through the second half before a scoring onslaught saw their opponents run way with the game.

Rather than talking doom and gloom Howlett was encouraged by a lot of what he saw and notwithstanding the final minutes of the match pleased with certain aspects of his teams’ performance.

However in what is a highly competitive and difficult competition the equation hardly gets any easier for the young Sharks who this week tackle the defending premiers the Penrith Panthers.

After a slow start which saw them lose their first four matches, the Panthers have found form in a hurry with three wins in a row and are set to arrive at Remondis Stadium this weekend full of confidence.

The Panthers triumphed 26-6 over the Gold Coast Titans to move level with the Sharks on six competition points, with the winner on Saturday to stay on touch with the top eight, the loser leaving themselves with plenty of work to do.

In a change to the Sharks line up, the backrow will be made up of ‘country cousins’ Jake Lawrence and Harrison Muller, with their recent form obviously warranting inclusion in the starting side.

Oiginally from Camden Haven near Port Macquarie in the north of NSW, Lawrence has become a regular fixture in the team in recent weeks, while Muller, from Orange in the central west of the state, has won promotion from the interchange bench and comes into the starting side for the Penrith clash.

The pair, along with fellow big men Kurt Dillon, Jake Goodwin and Winstone Asotasi, will need to be on their game against the physical Panthers pack should the Sharks hope to be successful on Saturday.

The Holden Cup game between the Sharks and Panthers will be the first of three at Remondis Stadium this weekend, with kickoff scheduled for 10.40am. The NSW Cup match follows at 12.45pm, with Gates will open at 10.30am.