Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks NRL Tips, Predictions and Match Preview - Sharks target fifth straight win over Panthers

Andrew Hendrie 10 Jul 2018
  • Penrith Panthers face Cronulla Sharks in Round 18 of the NRL on Friday
  • Sharks won last four meetings between the sides
Panthers host Sharks on Friday night

Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks clash in an all top-eight showdown to launch NRL Round 18 action on Friday night at Panthers Stadium.

Panthers vs Sharks kicks off at 6.00pm AEST at Panthers Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports in Australia.

Prediction

Match Preview


After returning to the winners circle with a dominant triumph over the Warriors last week, can the Panthers go back-to-back and cement their spot inside the top four?

Making the 36-4 victory over the Warriors more impressive was the fact that Penrith did it without their Origin stars, especially James Maloney and Nathan Cleary in the halves, but rookies Jerome Luai and Tyrone Mai stepped up and produced outstanding performance to guide their team home.

Luai in particular was phenomenal, scoring two tries, kicking six goals, breaking 10 tackles and earning one try assist.

With reports that Penrith could indeed rest Maloney, Cleary and Tyrone Peachey after Origin on Wednesday, the Panthers have proven they can still beat top eight opposition without them.

Meanwhile, the Sharks have had two weeks to prepare for this encounter after enjoying the bye last weekend.

Cronulla are currently sixth on the ladder with a 10-6 record and rank as the fifth best defensive team but ninth in attack. It’s been a solid but not overly impressive season for the Sharks so far, with Shane Flanagan’s team only 3-5 against top eight teams, indicating that they aren’t really up there in terms of being talked about as premiership contenders.

However, the Sharks have been much better over the last couple of months, and with a four-match winning run against the Panthers, they will be confident of continuing their push up the ladder. Much could depend if Penrith’s Origin players are rested, but either way, I like the Sharks to grind their way to a trademark tight win.

Match Odds


Cronulla Sharks - $1.80
Penrith Panthers - $2.00

Stats


  • Sharks won last four meetings between the teams
  • Cronulla also won nine of the last 11
  • Ten of the last 14 meetings have topped 38 points

Teams


Caleb Aekins has been named to debut at fullback for the injured Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, while James Maloney, Nathan Cleary and Tyrone Peachey are all in the reserves list.

Wade Graham returns from injury in the second row for the Sharks, pushing Scott Sorensen to the reserves.

Panthers: 1 Caleb Aekins, 2 Christian Crichton, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Tyrone Phillips, 6 Tyrone May, 7 Jarome Luai, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 James Tamou, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo (c), 13 James Fisher-Harris

Interchange: 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Corey Harawira-Naera, 16 Jack Hetherington, 17 Moses Leota

Reserves: 18 Liam Martin, 19 Kaide Ellis, 20 Tyrone Peachey, 21 James Maloney, 22 Nathan Cleary

Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sione Katoa, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Kurt Capewell, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen (c)

Interchange: 14 Joseph Paulo, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya 

Reserves: 18 Scott Sorensen, 19 Ava Seumanufagai, 20 Sosaia Feki, 21 Kyle Flanagan

Tips


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Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks NRL Tips, Predictions and Match Preview - Sharks target fifth straight win over Panthers

Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks clash in an all top-eight showdown to launch NRL Round 18 action on Friday night at Panthers Stadium.

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