The SG Ball Panthers were frustrated into a 38-4 defeat against a resolute Cronulla Sharks outfit on Saturday at Shark Park.
After an early error on their own line, the Panthers were caught napping by Cronulla hooker Thomas Demeio who reached out of dummy-half to score the first points of the afternoon. He converted his own try to extend the lead to six after just as many minutes.
Sloppy ruck defence saw Penrith split through the middle off the restart and with Sharks fullback Hayden Sutton looming in support, the home side’s lead was extended to 12.
Cronulla were at it again on the following set as a lack of urgency from the Panthers allowed Sidney Noppen to pounce on a loose grubber.
Trailing 16-0 after 10 minutes, a seven-tackle set presented Penrith with the chance they needed to fight their way back into the contest. And three consecutive penalties allowed the Panthers to camp on Cronulla’s line.
But an error in the play-the-ball saw the opportunity squandered as the Sharks later scored through Kitioni Kautoga to push their lead out to 22.
After weathering a number of sets defending their own line, Penrith were given a reprieve when a strong run from Ben Farr drew a penalty.
And the halfback was at it again moments later, this time making it all the way to the try line as the Panthers scored their first points of the afternoon.
The conversion was waved away, seeing Penrith trail by 18 points at the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 4 Sharks 22
The first fifteen minutes of the second half belonged to the Sharks, who continually peppered Penrith’s line before eventually breaking them off a lovely short ball which saw Thomas Rodwell surge through and find halfback Kade Dykes in support.
A penalty goal then saw Cronulla take an unassailable 26-point lead as the game turned into a test of resolve for the Panthers.
But against a determined Sharks side, Penrith were unable to cut the deficit. Instead, Cronulla added one more try to their tally.
It came after lock Damon Smith popped a deft short ball for Kautoga who crashed over for his second of the game.
The Panthers showed some resilience late to hold the Sharks out for the remaining 17 minutes of the match with a late penalty goal the only points scored.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 4 Sharks 38