Since losing to the Dragons in round five, the Sharks have quietly strung together three straight wins to get themselves back in finals contention.
They put 40 on the Sea Eagles a fortnight ago and racked up another 40-point haul in last week's rout of the Titans.
The loss of Matt Moylan to injury again would be a source of frustration for coach John Morris, but the Sharks aren't playing like it will be a major issue.
The Panthers notched their sixth win of the season last week, overcoming a stubborn Wests Tigers to remain in second spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Match: Sharks v Panthers
Round 9 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Sharks: With Matt Moylan (hamstring) out, Josh Dugan moves to fullback. Ronaldo Mulitalo's comeback from injury has been delayed a week so Nene Macdonald comes into the side on the wing. Braden Hamlin-Uele starts as usual at prop with Andrew Fifita to come off the bench.
Scott Sorensen and Connor Tracey were trimmed from the extended bench an hour before kick-off while Will Kennedy was omitted on Friday. The Sharks have won seven of their past eight games against the Panthers.
Panthers: Charlie Staines will debut in the backline in place of Dean Whare (toe), with Spencer Leniu replacing Zane Tetevano (back) on the bench. Mitch Kenny dropped off the reserves list on game day after Malakai Watene-Zelezniak was omitted from the squad on Friday. Panthers centre Stephen Crichton has scored four tries in his past three games.
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh DuganFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione KatoaWinger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Bryson GoodwinCentre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse RamienCentre for Panthers is number 21 Charlie Staines
Winger for Sharks is number 21 Nene MacdonaldWinger for Panthers is number 5 Brent Naden
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun JohnsonFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron WoodsProp for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke BraileyHooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Sharks is number 15 Braden Hamlin-UeleProp for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
Lock for Sharks is number 13 Jack WilliamsLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Sharks is number 8 Andrew FifitaInterchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Toby RudolfInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Siosifa TalakaiInterchange for Panthers is number 17 Billy Burns
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Royce HuntInterchange for Panthers is number 20 Spencer Leniu
Shaun Johnson v Nathan Cleary. Not only do they do most of the playmaking for their respective sides, Johnson and Cleary also handle the goal-kicking duties. Johnson has to shoulder extra responsibility in the likely absence of Moylan, while Cleary will be looking to put his usual stamp on the game. They're both in good form and their clash could be decisive.
The Sharks overturned a 14-0 half-time deficit when they beat Penrith 24-20 in round six last year. It was a different story when they locked horns again in round 21 - but only just. Despite prevailing 26-20, the Panthers had to withstand another Cronulla fightback after building a 20-4 half-time lead. It's a brand new season but the Panthers can't afford to drop their guard if they get a double-digit lead against a team that has averaged 32 points over the past three games.