Rather than play at the foot of the mountains or down in the Shire, the Sharks and Panthers travelled to unfamiliar territory for their round 20 clash in 2014.
It was a match played at Carrington Park in the central west town of Bathurst, between at Sharks side struggling through a difficult season, against a Panthers outfit looking to consolidate their position towards the top of the NRL ladder.
Going into the contest as massive underdogs, the Sharks were hoping to spoil the Panthers party and put a dent in their opponent’s finals aspirations.
It was the third time in the Club’s history the Sharks would play in Bathurst, taking a 2 win, no loss record to the town recognised as Australia’s home of motor racing.
The Sharks would have to battle on without Paul Gallen, the skipper battling a biceps tear failing to get through the final training run on Friday morning.
Even with the absence of Gallen and notwithstanding their lowly position on the competition table, the Sharks had trained strongly throughout the week and were confident of a bold showing.
Andrew Fifita, with two games now under his belt following a frustrating run with injury, was set to lead the charge up front, while the likes of Luke Lewis, Wade Graham and Michael Gordon were keen to impress against their former club.
Without Gallen in the Sharks side Graham was to assume the captaincy duties, the experienced and extremely capable Anthony Tupou taking over at lock.
Sharks coach James Shepherd, who in the week leading into the game was confirmed as head coach for the remainder of the 2014 season, named a 19-man squad, with the final make up of his side to be determined prior to kick off.
Matt Prior, Chris Heighington and Sam Tagataese, three players to make a significant contribution to the Sharks in the seasons that would follow, were named on an extended interchange bench.
Two Panthers who would later become Sharks in Matt Moylan and James Segeyaro, were named to line up for the Penrith team on the day.
For the Panthers, currently in second position, the match gave them a chance at revenge, with the Sharks handing in one of their better performances of the 2014 season when they beat Penrith 24-20 in an exciting contest at the then-named Remondis Stadium earlier in the year.
The Sharks had in fact enjoyed a recent dominance over the Panthers, having won four of the last five matches between the two clubs.
The match on Saturday attracted plenty of interest in Bathurst and surrounding areas, NRL fans flocking to Carrington Park to catch all the action, with a healthy crowd in attendance. Three games were played on the day, beginning with an NYC match, followed by the NSW Cup and the NRL clash at 3.00pm.
This week’s Classic Clash between the Sharks and Panthers, coinciding with not only the scheduled round nine match up, but also in recognising the last time the teams met in Bathurst, will be available on the Sharks website on Saturday, kicking off at 3.00pm.
The Sharks 19-man team list, which was to be trimmed back to the match-day 17 on game day, is listed below.
NRL TEAM LIST – Round 20
Sharks v Panthers
Saturday, July 26
Carrington Park, Bathurst
Kick off – 3.00pm (Full replay on sharks.com.au)
1 Michael Gordon
2 Sosaia Feki
3 Jonathan Wright
4 Ricky Leutele
5 Jacob Gagan
6 Fa’amanu Brown
7 Jeff Robson
8 Andrew Fifita
9 Michael Lichaa
10 Bryce Gibbs
11 Luke Lewis
12 Wade Graham (c)
13 Anthony Tupou
14 Pat Politoni
15 Chris Heighington
16 Tinirau Arona
17 Sam Tagataese
18 Tim Robinson
19 Matt Prior