NRL Round 10 – Match 7 Preview: Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers

The second game on Sunday night looks on paper one of the easier games to pick as the Sharks host the Panthers at Toyota Stadium.

Cronulla don’t seem to have many claims in this one, especially when you consider they are number 14 on the NRL Ladder while the Panthers are sitting up in fourth spot with five wins.

The Sharks are unsurprisingly the underdogs, but their odds are not as long as expected currently at $2.75 with Ladbrokes.com.au.

This is mainly because although struggling, Cronulla have claimed a couple of upset wins this round. They defeated the Knights by 20 points in round seven and kept the Eels scoreless in their 11 – 0 win back in round four, both matches played at Shark Park, so at home they can raise the bar.

But Penrith have been very impressive this season, and prior to their loss to the Titans the week before the bye in round eight, they enjoyed four consecutive wins.

Both teams will have fresh outfits after last week’s bye, so hopefully Cronulla bring some energy and make a match of this, unlike the 38 – nil thrashing they received from the number ones, the Dragons, in round eight.

The home ground advantage will help the Sharks, but the big cats have a stellar line-up that includes their top-tryscoring fullback Lachlan Coote and Michael Jennings and they should be pretty keen to try and keep in the top four and fight to make the finals for the first time since 2004.

The recent history between these two, however, suggests this one could be a bit tighter than many are expecting. The last time they met back in May last year, there was only four points separating them at full time, the Panthers winning 26 – 22.

However the Sharks have been very loose with the ball this season, their completion rates amongst the worst in the competition, which will make it hard for them to get the points on the board.

And although Cronulla boast an impressive and effective tackling duo with Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden, this will count for little if Penrith get in there with the bomb kicks and expose this weakness in the Sharks’ defence.

Penrith will also be playing positive after veteran Petero Civoniceva re-signed to complete his NRL career with them, putting to bed the rumours of a return to Brisbane.

Current Head-to-Head Odds: Sharks $2.75 – Panthers $1.46 Ladbrokes.com.au

Round 10 Sharks Team:

1. Nathan Gardner 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Dean Collis 4. Taulima Tautai 5. Isaac Gordon 6. Trent Barrett (c) 7. Tim Smith 8. Kade Snowden 9. John Morris 10. Luke Douglas 11. Grant Millington 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Paul Gallen

Bench: 14. Adam Cuthbertson 15. Broderick Wright 16. Paul Aiton 17. Siosaia Vave

Round 10 Panthers Team:

1. Lachlan Coote 2. Michael Gordon 3. Michael Jennings 4. Adrian Purtell 5. Shane Elford 6. Travis Burns 7. Luke Walsh 8. Tim Grant 9. Kevin Kingston 10. Petero Civoniceva 11. Trent Waterhouse 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Luke Lewis

Bench: 14. Masada Iosefa 15. Nathan Smith 16. Matthew Bell 17. Sam McKendry

Reserves: 18. Wade Graham 19. Gavin Cooper