While impressive at times during the first six rounds of the competition, the NYC Sharks face an early season test of their credentials when they travel to Penrith to take on the competition leading Panthers on Sunday.

Sitting in third position and coming off a 36-22 win over the Storm last weekend, their fourth victory in six starts this season, the challenge steps up a notch for a Sharks team with aspirations of being one of the Holden Cup heavyweights in 2017.

Starting their campaign with a last-minute loss to the Broncos, the Sharks smashed the Raiders and Dragons in consecutive weeks, before a disappointing loss to the Eels in round four in a game played at ANZ Stadium.

Since that Parramatta match the Sharks got past the Knights at home before showing good patience and persistence in a win over the Storm up on the Sunshine Coast last Saturday.

Which brings them to the Panthers on Sunday who since a surprise round one defeat at the hands of the Dragons have strung together five wins in succession to sit tied at the top on the Holden Cup ladder.

Last week in the Storm win the Sharks enjoyed good go forward from the likes of Daniel Vasquez, Brock Ilett and lock Billy Magoulias, with halves Jack Williams and Kyle Flanagan able to dictate terms off the back of it.

Flanagan in particular had an outstanding afternoon, scoring two tries, setting up two more with clever grubber kicks and controlling play well from the half back position. He was rewarded with the Players’ Player award following the game.

Sione Katoa continues to impress, the Sharks winger leading the NYC in tackle busts this year, with edge backrower Briton Nikora another to start the season in good form for Cronulla coach John Morris.

And they will need to be at or near the top of their game against a Panthers team which has a number of players returning in 2017 from the side which stumbled at the final hurdle when beaten in the Grand Final by the Roosters last year.

Caleb Atkins at fullback is a dangerous attacking player, while hooker and captain Wayde Egan and back rower Reed Izzard will command plenty of attention in the middle.

The Sharks v Panthers NYC match is scheduled for a 1.45pm kick-off at Pepper Stadium on Sunday.

See the Sharks 20-man team list, trimmed down from the 23 selected at the beginning of the week, with Morris to determine his final 17 an hour before the match gets underway.

NYC Team List – Round 7
Sharks v Panthers
Sunday, April 16
Pepper Stadium 
Kick-off – 1.45pm

1 William KENNEDY
2 Sione KATOA
3 Isaac LUMELUME
4 Bessie AUFAGA-TOOMAGA
5 Johnathan TUFUGA
6 Jack WILLIAMS ©
7 Kyle FLANAGAN
8 Daniel VASQUEZ
9 Blayke BRAILEY
10 Brock ILETT
11 Briton NIKORA
12 Tony MATAUTIA
13 Billy MAGOULIAS
Interchange
14 Zachary FAULKNER
15 Eddie FAALUA
16 Ryan KING
17 Joshua CARR
18 Lane Ferling
19 Kurtis Shayler
20 Clayton Uia
21 Luke JURD
22 Kalani PEWHAIRANGI-CHARLIE
23 Brody HAWKINS