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Sharks downed by Panthers in Flegg thriller

The Jersey Flegg Sharks fell agonisingly short in a 16-14 loss to the Panthers on Saturday afternoon after having a last-gasp opportunity to level the scores.

Played as the curtain-raiser to the NRL showdown between the same opponents at PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla scored at the death in the under-21 contest but winger Kristian Dixon couldn't land a sideline conversion to clinch a draw.

Dixon was the reason the Sharks were almost able to escape with a competition point, however, having shown immense strength to score in the corner.

Cronulla exploded out of the blocks as prop Felix Faatili proved too powerful close to the line, spinning his way through the defence to score after six minutes.

Back-rower Dylan Coutts then crashed over for a four-pointer on the left edge to extend Cronulla's lead following a bullet pass from five-eighth Taj Ford.

A quickfire double to Panthers winger Jirah Lilliard gave the visitors the momentum as the teams headed into the sheds locked at 10-all.

An arm-wrestle ensued in the second half, with Penrith breaking the stalemate through centre Samuel Lane to hit the front for the first time in the 46th minute.

The Sharks hung tough but struggled to advance into attacking territory as the clock wound down. The situation looked bleak when they squandered a seven-tackle set after Penrith missed a field goal with four minutes to go.

But seconds later Ford was streaking upfield after cleverly trapping a grubber kick. He couldn't quite reach the try-line, but the Sharks swung the ball right where Dixon did extremely well to carry several defenders over the stripe.

He unfortunately pushed the goal attempt wide and the Panthers clung on.

The Sharks, who came into the round in 11th position with a game in hand due to a washout earlier in the year, will face the Eels next Saturday.

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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