NRL Round 6: Sharks v Panthers Preview & Betting Tips
Penrith was embarrassed by a winless side last start – can they silence growing criticisms against the battling Sharkies?
Cronulla Sharks v Penrith Panthers – PointsBet Stadium 7:50pm
The Sharks certainly had the effort in their 30-16 loss to the Roosters – they just didn’t have the execution. Both sides were error-riddled throughout but despite the scoreline, Cronulla was competitive and had chances to take it to the Premiers. Most notably was a Shaun Johnson brain fade with 20 seconds left in the first half. The Kiwi star will have nightmares of his decision to kick off a scrum without a Shark in sight. The Premiers regained possession and Luke Keary’s chip to Latrell Mitchell as the siren sounded saw a stunning 60 metre try and Cronulla heads sink. They never recovered from this setback. Bronson Xerri dropped a golden chance immediately after the break and the Roosters ran in another three tries in seven minutes.
Cronulla does deserve praise for their continued hustle, however. Their completion rate was rough (69%) but they never stopped battling. They scored the game’s final 16 points and did so with a mounting injury concern. Already missing the likes of Wade Graham, Aaron Woods and Paul Gallen, stand-in skipper Andrew Fifita spent time on the sidelines with a hamstring concern. That’s four key forwards they missed and their young replacements will benefit from the experience gained against elite opposition. Young lock Jack Williams is an example – with Gallen’s decreased 2019 involvement, the 22-year-old leading the side with the most runs and got himself a deserved try to finish the match.
67. This isn’t just the particular year of the 20th century the Panthers entered the NSWRL, according to NRL Stats it’s also the number of missed tackles from Penrith in their painful 30-24 loss to the Titans. That’s an obscene amount and to do so against a previously winless side who previously had the worst attack in the league is a damning indication of the Panthers’ effort. Another way of summarising the Penrith defensive effort was in allowing the Titans to score in one night (30) almost the overall points they had scored the previous month (36).
Coach Ivan Cleary said he was shocked post-game at the defensive errors and acknowledged his side has a long way to go before showing a consistent 80-minute performance. James Maloney is under huge pressure from Luke Keary to retain his Origin position and despite the pivot scoring, he also missed at least ten tackles while conceding two penalties – as his side’s most experienced player, he’d know he can’t repeat that against his former Sharks side. Halves partner Nathan Cleary had his best game of 2019 but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the Titans. Penrith had an early second-half lead but couldn’t create enough momentum to take it to the end. A significant change in their defensive quality is needed this week.
Key stats: Cronulla has won six straight against Penrith, scoring at least 20 points every time. Penrith has missed the most tackles in NRL this season (205) and has a winless drought at Cronulla stretching back to 2012.
Best bet: Cronulla (-2.5) – $1.90* (Sportsbet)
Value bet: Race to 20 points – Cronulla – $2.30* (Sportsbet)