Panthers v Sharks: Five key points
The Sharks showed they are capable of going back-to-back as the Panthers cracked under pressure on Easter Sunday.
Sharks show back-to-back credentials
It hasn't been done in over two decades but the Sharks are showing the grit in defence that can take the side to back-to-back premierships.
Shane Flanagan's outfit kept the opposition tryless for the second week in a row, which had not been done by the Shire side since 1994.
"It's been an outstanding effort and attitude from the side after last week, to back it up today against more of an offensive team," Flanagan said.
"To keep that Penrith team with top quality outside backs to zero again was outstanding, especially after we turned the ball over a fair bit and made it worse for ourselves."
Pressure showing on Panthers
If Penrith are going to make the finals, they'll have to create some club history to do so. Never have the Panthers made the top eight with only two wins on the board from the opening seven rounds.
Two close losses to the Rabbitohs and Roosters at home in recent weeks have done the Panthers no favours and made the result against the Sharks seem much worse than it possibly was.
"They (Cronulla) were just too good and are a very good defensive side. Our attack was not where it needed to be patience-wise," Panthers coach Anthony Griffin said.
"We were attacking on what the scoreboard was saying rather than settling down and building some pressure."
Moylan captaincy questioned
Matt Moylan racked up more than 117 metres for the home side but was frustrated by his side's lack of direction particularly in the second half.
Speaking about his demotion last week to the Intrust Super Premiership for breaking team curfew, the Panthers skipper insisted he wanted to keep the leadership role.
"It's something that was brought on by myself so I will work through it and just play footy," Moylan said.
"Obviously it was a mistake by us and we owe our teammates and need to repay them for the rest of the year."
Griffin was adamant Moylan would retain the role moving forward despite the speculation he could be moved on.
"Matt's the captain of our club and that's not going to change from our end," Griffin said.
"We're going to help him develop and he's showed a lot of strength and character over the last couple of weeks that is going to hold him in good stead going forward."
Graham & Holmes look Origin-bound
Sharks duo Wade Graham and Valentine Holmes showed why they'll be hard to leave out in the opening State of Origin game in Brisbane at the end of May for both the Blues and Maroons line-ups.
Holmes was the best player on the field running for over 217 metres from 17 carries and causing the Panthers defensive line headaches with every touch, while Graham made a pleasant return to Pepper Stadium – a venue he was all too familiar with after spending three seasons at the foot of the mountains.
"I thought he was outstanding and terrorised everyone," Flanagan said of Graham.
"He come up with some really big tackles one-on-one with some of their quality outside backs and he came up with some big plays.
"I know Origin is around the corner and if he keeps playing like that he will be hard to keep out.
"If he gets squeezed out then New South Wales must have a decent side."
Bird is the word
Sharks fans must have felt mixed emotions watching Jack Bird put in a strong showing against the Panthers on Sunday.
Brisbane-bound at the end of the season, the 22-year-old made most of the headlines during the week after confirming his decision to depart the club but earned praise from Shane Flanagan post-game for the way he handled himself throughout the week.
"I've got to be really grateful and happy he was with us last year to win a competition and that he's here for the rest of the year," Flanagan said.
"The reason as a club that we're so disappointed is because of what we saw today, he's a quality player."
Meanwhile, Sharks skipper Paul Gallen added the club's disappointment in not being able to retain Bird beyond next season.
"He's a young kid and we will miss him but that's the game we play and some come and go," Gallen said.
"Not only is he a good footy player but he's a good person so he'll have to be replaced but the club will do that."