Penrith Panthers Vs Cronulla Sharks
16 April 2017, 4pm (AEST)
Pepper Stadium

The Panthers welcome the return of the exiled players from an internal ban, also coming off a disappointing loss at the Hands of the Rabbitohs and now they face the Premiers. The Sharks are riding the wave of being the first team to defeat the Storm in 2017 and on home soil at that.
Will the exiles lift the Panthers against a possibly fatigued Sharks that played in terrible wet conditions?

Penrith Panthers 2-0-4, 12th

They almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat last week, but fell short against the Rabbitohs. Cleary again displaying his future star power, slotting a side line kick with 3 minutes to lock it up, absolute class. The back three from Penrith were immense, all clearing 100m with some tough runs when under pressure. A very good sign showing their depth if injury strikes this club. J. Tamou is starting to find his feet and justifying his large price tag with 159m, 39 tackles and a tackle break. He is going to have to lead again this week against another tough pack of forwards. For us, T. Merrin seems a bit off this year, he’s not offloading at will, or poor choices have crept in, unlike last year where he was a machine. He missed 6 tackles last game, also maybe alluding to some issues that aren’t public just yet. He is a star player and should come good, but what this has allowed is the rise of C. H-Naera, he’s played 3 games this year and has been in great form. A beautiful short pass saw him untouched last week, with 4 tackle busts and 2 offloads he’s one to watch.
The Penrith pack will be tested, especially the edge defenders with set plays targeting them. Up the middle it will be epic, with big bodies everywhere, watch for Moylan to be sniffing around for a late offload to ignite his team.

Cronulla Sharks 4-0-2, 3rd

The Premiers dug in, rolled up their tight sleeves and just out muscled the Storm in the middle of the park (running up 1,686m). Add in some niggle from both teams and this modern day rivalry is growing each game they play. Let’s be honest, in monsoonal rains, typically saved for the northern states, it was a terrible game handling wise, with 27 errors between them, 64 missed tackles and 23 incomplete sets. Ridiculous numbers considering the talent and class of these two clubs. Sharks fans we’re ecstatic when J. “ice in his veins” Maloney snapped a Feild goal with 10 minutes to go and took the lead 3-2, a throw back score to the early days of Rugby league. But it was a B. Slater mistake that allowed J. Segeyaro to score the only try of the match under the black dot in the 73rd minute to seal the dower match.

The Sharks will be on high alert to watch M. Moylan as Penrith last week just lacked that last pass on a few occasions. They will also be wanting to work the middle third again and it won’t be an easy task, but if they can, it will go a long way to winning the game.

Weather prediction (correct as at 10:32pm, source Weather zone)
No Scuba gear required this week as its expected to be a sunny day.

Team news: (Final team lists released an hour before the game)

Penrith Panthers
As alluded to, Penrith welcome back their captain M. Moylan and W. Blake from their clubs imposed ban.
J.F-Harris returns from his injury and forces C. H-Naera to the bench.
Origin smokey T. Peachy, seems to have recovered from a niggling rib injury.
B. Cartwright and P. Hiku have also been named, numbers 21 and 20, they could be late inclusions.

Cronulla Sharks
After scoring the match winning try and some class plays from J. Segeyaro, it was released he in fact had played with a broken arm. This allows K. Capewell to take his position on the bench.

Their last 5 game report card:
Penrith have won once, their victory was at Pepper stadium.
Sharks have won 4 of the last encounters, once at Pepper stadium.

2016 – Round 16 – Sharks won by 16 at Pepper stadium
2016 – Round 8 – Sharks won by 2 points at Southern Cross Group stadium
2015 – Round 8 – Penrith won by 8 points at Pepper stadium
2014 – Round 14 – Sharks won by 2 at Carrington stadium
2014 – Round 8 – Sharks won by 4 at Southern Cross Group Stadium

What we take from this?

We aren’t sure why the Sharks are not the favourites in this game? Having won their last four against Penrith and retaining the majority of their premiership team, with no major structural changes at this stage, it seems weird to us.
Penrith do welcome back some key players, will they click straight away? It depends on their (Penrith) forwards to win the middle battle. If the Sharks turn the screws up the middle third of the ground, Penrith will find it hard to counter act the Sharks attacking skills.
Penrith score a lot of points in the middle third of the ground, however this plays into the Sharks defence as they rarely concede tries there, it’s their wingers that seem to leak tries.

For Us the line of +2.5 at $1.91 (Sportsbet)
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You won’t see the Premiers getting the positive line too often, if your feeling like they can win, the best odds we found were on SB at $2.22, we may have a sneaky play on that also.

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