5 Key Points: Sharks v Panthers
The Sharks win over the Panthers on Sunday proved to be the side’s fifth consecutive – here are the ‘5 Key Points’ to come out of the win.
Captain Gallen lead from the front
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen picked up from where he left off against the Raiders in Canberra, in running for 205 metres from his 23 carries, having also made 39 tackles in what was a trademark 80-minute performance versus the Panthers on Sunday.
Making no secret of his hopes and intentions to represent Australia in next week’s Trans-Tasman test, Kangaroos Coach Mal Meninga would have surely noted the performance of the Sharks leader, with the representative side to be named this afternoon.
Lewis' bell-ringer kept the Sharks in line
Luke Lewis’ 33rd minute tackle on the Panthers’ Matt Moylan came off the back of two repeat sets where the visitors looked likely to cross for points.
Although Penrith would go on to earn another set from an ensuing penalty, Lewis’ tackle sparked an extra energy in the Sharks goal-line defence – which was ultimately able to hang tough and turn the Panthers away.
Matt Prior continued to be the rock in the Sharks pack
Once more promoted to the starting side despite wearing jersey 16, Matt Prior proved a man not to be messed with on Sunday – time and time again pulling off bruising defensive hits.
Prior’s showing came off the back of strong performances against the Titans and Raiders respectively – and although not rewarded with a try against the Panthers as he was in the two weeks gone before, the prop did his chances of earning a Country Origin jersey no harm.
Townsend & Maloney did things by no half-measures
Chad Townsend’s second-half line break to set the Sharks in motion proved a play that swung the game's momentum.
Supported by his halves partner, a weary Maloney could have been excused for not following the play, with Luke Lewis in place to take Townsend’s pass if need be.
But as was the case, Townsend picked out his halves partner who trailed through the middle, with Maloney duly rewarded with his second try in as many weeks.
Townsend was earlier denied a 4-pointer of his own, ruled offside from a Jack Bird kick. Regardless, a willingness to chase and scrap for the loose ball was evident for all to see.
Injured Panthers showed their fight
The Panthers played with 15 men for the majority of the match, and very nearly went within a whisker of snatching the competition points.
Typical of the side this season, Anthony Griffin’s men turned in another brave performance to lose only by the barest of margins having had a chance to tie the game with under 2 minutes on the clock.
The 2-point loss now takes Penrith’s average win/loss margin to just 3.25 points per game – the shortest margin after 8 rounds in the game’s 108-year history.
Pre-purchase tickets to this Sunday's NRL blockbuster as the Sharks host the Broncos at Southern Cross Group Stadium! Click HERE to secure your seat.