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The Panthers did as expected when they accounted for the Warriors last week, but it was no doubt a little too close for comfort for coach Ivan Cleary.

After performing at such a high level for so long a let-down was probably on the cards, but wet weather is always a great leveller and the Warriors deserve a lot of credit for sticking to their guns and keeping the competition leaders under pressure.

Cleary will be banking on a more polished performance on Friday night against the hot-and-cold Sharks.

Cronulla had to work for everything in last week's less-than-convincing win over the Titans and need to raise the bar if they are going to upstage the Panthers in enemy territory.

The Rundown

Team news

Panthers: Penrith will start 1-17 after Mitch Kenny and Billy Burns were the last two players omitted from the squad. Brian To'o's return from an ankle injury delayed at least another week. 

To'o and Matt Burton were omitted from the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off. The Panthers have scored the first try in 13 consecutive games.

Sharks: In big news for the Sharks, halfback Shaun Johnson - who had been battling a groin injury - is out, with Braydon Trindall (No.20) to start at halfback. Johnson and Teig Wilton were the two players left out an hour before the match.

In late positional changes, Toby Rudolf will start at prop, Scott Sorensen at lock and Braden Hamlin-Uele from the interchange bench.

Briton Nikora and Bryson Goodwin dropped off the reserves list on Thursday night. Winger Sione Katoa has scored the most tries by a Sharks player (13) after 14 rounds since Andrew Ettingshausen in 1988.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Tyrone May
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brent Naden
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt Moylan
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Sharks is number 20 Braydon Trindall

Forwards

  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
    Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Siosifa Talakai
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Sharks is number 15 Scott Sorensen

Interchange

  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Daine Laurie
    Interchange for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
    Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Connor Tracey
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack Williams
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Zane Tetevano
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Royce Hunt

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
  • Touch Judge: Gavin Badger
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

Key match-up

Jarome Luai v Matt Moylan. Luai has cemented the five-eighth spot at Penrith and formed a lethal 1-2 punch with blossoming star Nathan Cleary. 

The 23-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong in 2020, silencing the doubters who thought he wouldn't be able to fill James Maloney's big shoes. Moylan has battled injuries all season and is still nowhere near his best. He would love to get a win against his former club.

Stat Attack

It was an even 1-1 split between the Panthers and Sharks last season. Cronulla fought back from a 14-0 half-time deficit on home turf to beat the Panthers 24-20 in round six, while Penrith prevailed 26-20 in the re-match at Panthers Stadium in round 21.

Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary scored a try in each match and has been one of the NRL's standouts in 2020.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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