Reining premiers the Cronulla Sharks boast a massive 456 games of first grade experience as
they take on a dominant Penrith Panthers in a grand final replay this week.
Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Daniel Holdsworth, Matt Prior and Junior Moors provide
the foundation for this valuable experience, which will no doubt be put to the test, as the
Panthers look to win five on the trot.
The Sharks will be no pushover, coming off a crushing 46-10 win over the Newtown Jets last
week, they will look to exploit the talent of winger Jacob Gagan who the three try hero of
their massive win.
Sharks coach Tony Herman was full of support for his team in what will be a huge test in
defending their premiership
“Yeah it’s a grand final replay, we did beat them last year but we expect them to be ready.”
“Obviously there’s been some change in personnel but we’ve got some players from last year
and so do they. We’ve prepared really well this week, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Cronulla’s Ben Hampton deserves a mention; the playmaker is equipped with some attacking
genius, stemming from his time spent with Kevin Walters – the same genius that helped him
make a first grade appearance for the Storm. In combination with Daniel Holdsworth, they
form a dangerous halves pairing.
Look out for Isaac John at halfback for the Panthers however, the Cook Islands representative
impressed Phil Gould when he played first grade last year, and has the ability to turn a game.
Keep an eye on tongue twisting fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; the New Zealander scored
a double in his First grade debut and is one for the future. Penrith’s winning streak can’t be
brushed aside either, there’s a reason they’re a top 4 side.
Elsewhere, the New Zealand Warriors go head-to-head with the Newtown Jets, in Newtown.
After a slow start to the season, the Warriors are now starting to hit their straps – winning
their last three. Points on the board are almost a certainty for the travelling kiwis. The NZ side
have some brilliant talent on display with danger man Kevin Locke patrolling at the back, and
human wrecking-ball Konrad Hurrell terrifying the opposition in the centres. The Jets must be
hoping for a hot one this Saturday; otherwise the Warriors are going to be a tough team to
The round is wrapped up as the Bears host the Wentworthville Magpies at North Sydney
Oval. With Nathan Merritt’s shock demotion to the Bears, the experience of the consistent
try-scorer could prove massive in this contest. However, The Magpies are coming off a brutal
54-24 win over league leaders Mounties and will come out flying. The Bears will be looking
claw their way to victory following some disappointing losses. Keep an eye out for a possible
underdog story – everyone loves one of those.