Panthers win a shot in the arm: Cleary
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says Sunday afternoon's victory over Cronulla was the "shot in the arm" his team needed after their luckless run with injuries.
Eight regular first-graders were sidelined in Round 8, but a depleted Panthers side held a confident Sharks outfit scoreless in the second half to register just their second victory since their Round 2 rout of the Titans in Bathurst.
"Definitely we've had a rough few weeks, obviously down a few troops and a little bit of confidence too. So that'll be a little bit of a shot in the arm today," Cleary said post-game.
Both teams completed over 80 per cent for the match, however the Panthers coach said it was his side's ability to control proceedings in the second half that proved the difference in the end.
Cronulla led 18-12 at half-time but failed to score a point thereafter.
"I thought we gifted points really in the first half, which obviously is disappointing. I thought we had every right to be ahead at half-time but gave up cheap points. That's a bit of confidence, and just concentration too, a lot of young players. We're learning on the run," Cleary said.
"I thought we controlled the ball well and we kicked better as well in the second half. If the Sharks were going to do anything, they were going to have to come up with it themselves. That was probably the difference."
Hooker James Segeyaro and centre Dean Whare were ruled out on the eve of the match, adding to a lengthy casualty ward that already includes Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace, Elijah Taylor, Brent Kite, Josh Mansour and Jamal Idris.
Cleary said he didn't expect anyone back for their next clash against the Broncos.
"I don't know if anyone will be back after the rep week. But in there somewhere, you're talking Segeyaro, Soward, Wallace, Taylor, to name a few. Kite maybe even. Don't know which weeks, but we've got a few troops coming back. So that'll be good," he said.
"We've got a couple of byes coming up. I think we play four games in seven or eight weeks. Somewhere around there we'll start getting some blokes back, which will obviously be needed."