A young Penrith side has coasted to a big 34-6 win over the Sharks in Sunday afternoon's pre-season trial match at CommBank Stadium.
Penrith's left side was red-hot once the match started to open up with Kurt Falls, Mavrik Geyer, Niwhai Puru, Logan Dixon and Robert Jennings the try-scorers while Thomas Hazelton was only name on the score-sheet for the Sharks.
After a scoreless half-hour to start which included Braydon Trindall being sin-binned for high contact, Penrith started to hit their straps with two well-worked left-side tries late in the first half.
Geyer added a try-assist early in the second half and a lovly pick-up helped Dixon to a four-pointer in the 56th minute before Hazelton crashed over next to the sticks to get the Sharks on the board with a quarter of the game to go.
Jennings got on the board after some lovely lead-up work from Sunia Turuva and William Fakatoumafi before Niwkai Puru iced the win with his double after the siren off a pass from his brother Hohepa.
Match: Sharks v Panthers
Round 1 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
There weren't a lot of likely round one NRL starters on either side but that didn't diminish the skill on display with some wonderful tries from the Panthers in particular as young guns from both sides showed a glimpse of what they can offer.
- Sharks playmaker Braydon Trindall was sin-binned for an early high shot on Panthers winger Thomas Jenkins and will face a nervous wait for the charge sheet to determine if he is available for round one.
- Panthers halfback Sean O'Sullivan was heavily involved with some quality touches and showed he is ready to step in for any games Nathan Cleary is forced to sit out this year.
- His halves partner Kurt Falls also had a strong game, included a perfect five from five off the tee.
- Panthers coach Ivan Cleary indicated Izack Tago was in line for a round one centre slot, and he had some dangerous touches on the Penrith left edge including a second-half try-assist.
- Geyer had a super game in his first senior appearance for the club with a try and a try assist off the bench.
- The Sharks had their own son-of-a-gun on the park, with Kade Dykes - son of club stalwart Adam - looking at home at fullback.
- Prop Franklin Pele was impressive for the Sharks but he became the second player sin-binned after a high shot on Jaeman Salmon that could put him in doubt for round one.
Mavrik Geyer showing some serious skill to score
Play of the Game
Just five minutes after entering the field, Geyer had his first senior try for the Panthers as he raced onto a nice short ball from O'Sullivan and fended away Trindall on an impressive 20-metre run to the line to make it 12-0 shortly before half-time.
What They Said
"It was mad, pre-season was really good with the boys and it was good to put the points on. It was a good little hit out and hopefully a taste of what the future is. Me and Seany (O'Sullivan) have been same edge all pre-season so for that to pull off after a bit of work was good.": Panthers rookie Mavrik Geyer.
"I enjoyed the first 25-30 minutes. I thought we really knuckled down and got into some hard, physical footy with Penrith. There was a bit of a ding-dong there. I was disappointed with the second half, it was probably less than 50% completion rate, just basics, we lost our way. We had a lot of combination changes and they kept it pretty simple and just ground us out.": Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Geyer sets up Puru for a try
The Sharks play their final trial against the Bulldogs next Monday, February 28, at 7pm at Pointsbet Stadium. Big-name recruits Dale Finucane, Cameron McInnes and Nicho Hynes are yet to line up for the Sharks in a match situation and could be eyeing some minutes before round one.
The Panthers have their final trial run at 5pm next Saturday against the Eels at home at BlueBet Stadium. Recruits Sean O'Sullivan and Chris Smith already played in this game and while very few NRL regulars were on show against the Sharks, the premiers are unlikely to require too much of a tune up so don't expect coach Ivan Cleary to go all-out against the Eels.
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