Penrith will be desperate to get their season back on track when they host the Sharkies on Easter Sunday.
One of the pre-season favourites to win the premiership, Penrith are 2-4 after six rounds and face a big test here against the champs who are starting to hit some form.
Penrith go into this off the back of a one-point loss to the Rabbitohs at Pepper Stadium while the Sharkies were ultra impressive in disposing of the Melbourne Storm 11-2 down south.
BACK IN BLACK
The Panthers were clearly missing several of their big guns last week and it cost them dearly.
Without the likes of Matt Moylan, Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake due to being stood down, Penrith was also missing regular starters Bryce Cartwright and Tyrone Peachey which really stretched the depth of their squad.
Coach Anthony Griffin will have all those players available this week for the Easter Sunday clash at Pepper Stadium where they have won just once and lost twice in 2017.
Those are big additions to the Penrith outfit which will hold them in good stead here.
Cronulla produced their best display of the season last week against Melbourne to announce to the rest of the competition that they won’t be giving up their title easily.
Having been largely unimpressive for the first five weeks, Cronulla went down to AAMI Park and beat the Storm at their own game. Facing wet conditions, scores were locked at 2-2 before James Maloney booted the visitors in front with 10 mins to go. A late try sealed the win but the most impressive aspect of the performance was that they held the Storm scoreless.
The Sharks are now 4-2 and go into this having won three straight while holding their opponents to just 26 points during this span.
Penrith have been owned by Cronulla in recent years.
The Sharkies have won five of the past six clashes by an average margin of 10.4 points, however, four of the past five games between the sides have been decided by single figure margins.
Pepper Stadium won’t hold any fears for the premiers as they have beaten Penrith at the venue in three of their past four visits. A Sharkies win 1-12 is paying $3.60 @ William Hill.
We think the pressure will mount on Penrith with the Sharks to get the money here.
Cronulla still aren’t the polished product by any means but they still got the job done against the previously unbeaten Storm. They missed 26 tackles and completed 70 percent of their sets, however, they are still in front of the Panthers in our eyes.
They look a safer bet than Penrith who have won just two games, albeit by big margins over the Tigers and Knights, but this is a harder matchup and against some of the bigger teams they have come up short so far in 2017.
We think they are still in a work in progress so take the Sharks to get the ‘W’ here.
PENRITH / CRONULLA HALF-FULL DOUBLE