NRL Preview – Sharks v Panthers
While the high of the win over the Storm last Sunday was off-set somewhat by the Jack Bird news midweek, the Sharks will head to Penrith tomorrow with plenty of confidence as they look to take down another of the premiership heavyweights on their home turf.
The Sharks won a physical battle over the Storm, keeping the Melbourne side try-less, the first time in the club’s history they have failed to cross the stripe in a home game, however the challenge will be just as formidable this week against a Panthers side which has so far failed to live up to the pre-season predictions.
A couple of days before the Sharks battled the Storm the Panthers were disappointing in a one-point loss to Souths, but there were some excuses with three star players sidelined due to an in-house disciplinary issue.
This week they welcome back skipper Matt Moylan and outside backs Peter Hiku and Waqa Blake, making the Panthers on paper at least a more dangerous attacking outfit.
Also returning from injury for Penrith is former Shark Tyrone Peachey, with Bryce Cartwright named on an extended bench.
However this is a resilient Sharks outfit, as shown by the win in Melbourne and with limited changes to the team that was successful last weekend, coupled with a decent recent record at Pepper Stadium, the Cronulla side will arrive confident about their chances.
Unfortunately James Segeyaro will be a non-starter after suffering a broken arm in the win over the Storm, the Sharks interchange hooker sustaining the injury in his first tackle involvement of the game.
Segeyaro played out the match, with subsequent scans and x-rays revealing a break in his arm, early predictions forecasting up to six weeks on the sidelines.
Which means youngster Jayden Brailey will be looking at a few extra minutes as compared to what he has played over the past three matches since Segeyaro debuted at the Sharks.
If required however, Brailey believes he can go the distance at Pepper Stadium on Sunday.
“I’m pretty confident in playing full minutes,” Brailey said. “I’ve done it a fair bit and I think I’ll be able to do it.
“I know it’s a bit different (in juniors and lower grades) to the NRL but I feel I would be able to handle it.”
Also missing this weekend will be Gerard Beale, the Kiwi outside back succumbing to a nagging hamstring strain.
Coming into his place will be the Kurt Capewell, with Pepper Stadium the scene of his NRL debut some 12 months ago, while Coach Shane Flanagan has yet to declare the final make up of his interchange bench.
At the time of publishing Joseph Paulo, Tony Williams and utility Fa’amanu Brown were all vying for the final spot in his 17-man squad, with Brown the potential smokey if Flanagan feels Brailey needs some back up in the hooking role.
The Sharks play the Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is 4.00pm.
The Sharks 19-man squad is listed below. The 17-player team will be announced one hour before kick off.
Also below are some of the statistics from previous Sharks v Panther games.
NRL Team List – round 7
Sharks v Panthers
Sunday, April 16
Kick-off – 4.00pm
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Jack Bird
4- Ricky Leutele
17- Kurt Capewell
6- James Maloney
7- Chad Townsend
8- Andrew Fifita
9- Jayden Brailey
10- Matt Prior
11- Luke Lewis
12- Wade Graham
13- Paul Gallen
14- Jayson Bukuya
15- Chris Heighington
16- Jeremy Latimore
18- Tony Williams
19- Joseph Paulo
21- Fa’amanu Brown
Tale of the Tape
Sharks v Panthers
Games Played – 87
Sharks 46 wins
At Pepper Stadium
Games played 40
Last 8 meetings
Sharks 6 wins
Sharks 43 Panthers 4, Penrith Park, 1978
Panthers 50 Sharks 12, Penrith Park 2010