The NYC Sharks will move on to a sudden death showdown with the Sydney Roosters after going down by 28-6 to the Panthers in their qualifying finals match at Allianz Stadium
The Sharks tried hard but were let down by errors and missed tackles, with the Panthers proving too good in a performance which showed why they finished the regular season five points clear of the field an don top of the Holden Cup ladder.
While the final score shows a comprehensive win, the Sharks competed hard throughouth, with coach John Morris and his squad seeing enough positives to give them plenty of hope heading into their match with the Roosters next weekend.
The Sharks handled some early pressure from the Panthers before a penalty helped kick them out of trouble and into an attacking zone.
Five tackles later after a strong set it would be the Sharks to open their account, Jayden Brailey diving over from dummy half in just the seventh minute.
An error from the kickoff gifted the Panthers field position however some desperation defense denied them on that occasion but not long after the Penrith side would post first points, a try to centre Braiden Burns making it 6-4 Sharks.
Dylan Edwards converted from a difficult angle and it was 6-all 24 minutes into the contest.
The game continued to go from end to end but it appeared as if the Sharks would take a lead into half time, however a successful captains challenge from the Panthers saw a Josh Tuilagi try disallowed and the scores remained tied at the break.
The second stanza began in the worst possible fashion for the Sharks when Tuilagi coughed up the ball on a kick return, only to have Penrith’s Reed Izzard pounce on the ball and run 15 metres to score.
Edwards was again on target from wide out and the Panthers led 12-6.
Penrith would extend their lead not long after and again it came from a Sharks mistake, this time when a Panthers grubber kicked wasn’t cleaned up, Daniel Brown receiving a pass from Izzard to dive over in the corner.
On this occasion Edwards couldn’t convert but the minor premiers had a handy 10-point lead at 16-6 in front with 30 minutes of the match remaining.
Now camping deep in Sharks territory the Panthers continued to press adding to their advantage when half back Wayde Egan sliced through to score adjacent to the posts.
Despite missing the kick at goal from close range the Panthers had a match-winning lead at 20-6 with only a quarter of the game to go.
Now well on top and dominating field position and possession the Panthers would cross again with 15 left in the match, before a long range try on the fulltime siren saw the final score wind up at 28-6 and leaving the Sharks with some work to do ahead of next week’s clash with the Roosters.
Jayden Brailey try, Jack Williams goal
Braiden Burns 2, Reed Izzard, Daniel Brown, Wayde Egan, Ratu Tuisese tries, Dylan Edwards 2 goals
Minute by minute scoring
7 mins – Sharks 6-0 - Brailey try, Williams goal
23 mins – 6-all – Burns try, Edwards goal
42 mins – Panthers 12-6 – Izzard try, Edwards goal
49 mins – Pantehrs 16-6 – Brown try
57 mins – Panthers 20-6 – Egan try
69 mins – Panthers 24-6 – Tuisese try
80 mins – Panthers 28-6 – Burns try