A late try to Valentine Holmes, off a line break from former Penrith boy Matt Moylan sealed a hard-fought 24-12 win to the Sharks in a spirited contest at Panthers Stadium
The Sharks just couldn't put the Panthers away, until the late heroics got the Cronulla side home, with Moylan a standout as best player on the field in his first game back at his old stomping ground.
Moylan scored a try and had two try assists in once his most dynamic performances in Sharks colours.
It was a valuable two competition points for the Sharks who draw level with Penrith in the chase for a coveted top four berth.
The Panthers were on the board courtesy of a penalty goal to Jarome Luai but it would be the Sharks to cross the stripe for the opening try of the night.
After Edrick Lee showed great discipline to resist the urge to reach out when pulled up just centimetres short, the Sharks spread the ball to the opposite sideline and it would be Sione Katoa to touch down, the young winger accepting a desperation pass from Kurt Capewell before going over in the corner.
Chad Townsend added the extras and the Sharks led 6-2 after 20 minutes of the first half.
Defending strongly at one end, the Sharks were then rewarded at the other, when after a penalty kicked them into at attacking zone Holmes would score five tackles later off a clever inside pass from Wade Graham.
Again Townsend was on target and the Sharks were up 12-2 with five minutes of the half remaining.
A Sharks error let the Panthers off the hook in the closing exchanges of the half and the visitors went to the break up by 10.
The Panthers weathered an early storm from the Sharks in the second half, with Capewell narrowly failing score wide out, then crossed for a four-pointer of their own, centre Waqa Blake slicing through from close range to score.
Youngster Luai couldn't covert but the margin was back to six with the Sharks up 12-6 with still half an hour of the game to go.
On the back of some poor discipline from the Panthers the Sharks marched back down the field and they would extend their lead and this time it was former local boy Moylan who got across the line, the five eighth beating a couple of defenders after accepting a nice short ball from Scott Sorensen.
Townsend kicked the goal from close to the uprights and it was 18-6 Sharks in the 55th minute of the match.
A clean break by Panthers debutant Caleb Aekins put his side back on the attack but some strong goal line defence from the Sharks turned the Penrith side away however just when it appeared the Sharks had held firm, big backrower Corey Harawira-Naera would burst through to put his team back in the contest.
And when Luai was successful with the conversion, it was 18-12 Sharks with 10 minutes left on the clock.
From the ensuing set of six it appeared as if the Panthers may pull level, Luai slicing through before kicking wide to Christian Crichton but the winger couldn't ground the ball and the Sharks had dodged a bullet.
The home team were still full of energy and throwing plenty at the Sharks and it took the ex-Panther to seal the result, Moylan making a clean break before passing to Holmes whoo dashed away to score under the posts.
With the Townsend conversion it was 24-12 and the Sharks would claim the win.
The win was made all the more commendable considering the Sharks lost Jesse Ramien late, had Jayson Bukuya fail to return to the field for the second half, while a bout of the flu affected the performances of Paul Gallen and Matt Prior.
The Sharks now get a seven-day break until they face the the Canberra Raiders in a home game next Friday night.
Valentine Holmes 2, Matt Moylan, Sione Katoa tries, Chad Townsend 4 goals
Waqa Blake, Corey Harawira-Naera tries, Jarome Luai 2 goals
Crowd - 11,742