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NRL Match Preview: Round 12 v Panthers

For the first time since 2019, the ladder-leading Sharks will host the Panthers at a sold-out PointsBet Stadium on Saturday night.

The 'full house' sign was erected last Sunday, reflecting the overwhelming excitement for an Indigenous Round clash where Cronulla will put their seven-game winning streak on the line against the three-time reigning premiers.

After strong victories over the Storm and Roosters, the Sharks have stamped themselves among the competition's heavyweights approaching the halfway point of the year. Still, coach Craig Fitzgibbon and his squad remain level-headed.

"We've done nothing other than try and improve our footy. I thought that process started at the back-end of last year, to be honest," Fitzgibbon said on Friday.

"I still feel like whatever happens in the next couple of weeks, there's a lot to go. We're relatively happy with how we're playing.

"We've had to earn that and we'll have to keep earning it. It's pleasing that there's a little bit more credibility about playing two teams like Melbourne and the Roosters (in the eyes of the media), but it's so hard to win any game in the NRL.

"I know it's really easy to look at the ladder and teams' performances, et cetera, but if you turn up on any particular day and your attitude and intent's not right, anyone can beat anyone ... For the most part, we've been turning up pretty well."

The Sharks own a terrific head-to-head record over Penrith at home, having been victorious in their past five fixtures at the Shire fortress dating back to 2013.

While the Panthers are coming off a 22-20 loss to the Warriors, the Ivan Cleary-coached powerhouse are perched in third position – two wins off the Sharks.

For Cronulla, another impressive display could result in several Sharks players being selected for State of Origin – a prospect Fitzgibbon welcomes.

"If players are stepping up to the possibility of playing in big-game fixtures, I think it makes them better players and ultimately, if they come back to your team, your team's stronger because you've got more players that have experienced the highest level," said Fitzgibbon, who himself represented NSW 11 times.

"We'd love to see them rewarded with those jerseys, but we've also got to acknowledge the selection process. They're not over the line yet. Sitting in front of us is a terrific challenge against Penrith in Indigenous Round. (We're) focusing purely on that. If they get their jobs done, I'd love to see them rewarded."

On numbers, it shapes as a miserly game given the Sharks and Panthers are this season's leading defensive teams, conceding just 158 and 156 points respectively.

Cronulla are set to go into the showdown with an unchanged 17. The updated 19-man squad includes Mawene Hiroti and Braydon Trindall as the reserves. 

Kick-off tomorrow is at 5.30pm with TV coverage on Foxtel and Kayo.

See the 24-hour sides below.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Sunia Turuva
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Kayal Iro
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Paul Alamoti
  • Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Daniel Atkinson
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jack Cole
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Nicholas Hynes
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Jarome Luai


  • Prop for Sharks is number 8 Thomas Hazelton
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch Kenny
  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Oregon Kaufusi
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Scott Sorensen
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Teig Wilton
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Cameron McInnes
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo


  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Jack Williams
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Daine Laurie
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Siosifa Talakai
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Lindsay Smith
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Royce Hunt
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Liam Henry
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Tuku Hau Tapuha
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Matthew Eisenhuth


  • Replacement for Sharks is number 18 Mawene Hiroti
    Replacement for Panthers is number 21 Jesse McLean

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
  • Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein

Last updated:

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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