Panthers put Sharks to the sword
Author : Jessica Miles
Panthers SG Ball put Sharks to the sword
The Panthers have opened their SG Ball Cup season with back-to-back wins after defeating Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 36-16 at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
An impressive all-round performance from Panthers halfback Isaiya Katoa was unfortunately soured by a potentially serious wrist injury suffered in the final minute of play.
Katoa got the better of the Cronulla defence in the 14th minute, crashing over out wide to open the scoring. His successful conversion gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
Panthers hooker Billy Scott broke clear in the 20th minute and found fullback Liam Ison looming up in support to finish off the try. Katoa knocked the conversion over to extend the lead to 12-0.
From the restart, the Sharks kicked out on the full and the Panthers took full advantage of the error.
A deft in-goal grubber from Katoa evaded the Sharks defenders and centre Jesse McLean was on the spot to ground the ball. Another conversion from Katoa gave the home side an 18-0 lead.
Needing a response, the Sharks looked certain to score in the corner before centre Carl Bishop spilled the final pass.
However the visitors opened their account in the 32nd minute, with Chaz Jarvis delivering a flat ball to fullback Siteni Taukamo, who ploughed through four Panthers to reduce the deficit to 14 points.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 18 – SHARKS 4
Shortly after the break, taking advantage of some loose markers, Scott dived over from dummy half to extend the Panthers’ lead. Katoa added the extras to make it 24-4.
A strong run from interchange forward Samuel McCulloch added the first points to the board for Cronulla in the second half, muscling his way through the Panthers line in the 43rd minute.
Sharks five-eighth Jake Hay converted to make the score 24-10.
Some classic draw-and-pass saw the Panthers take advantage of an overlap on the left edge in the 51st minute, with winger Jimmy Donnelly crossing in the corner.
Katoa nailed the sideline conversion and the Panthers led 30-10.
The other Panthers winger Samuel Lane grabbed a try for himself with 15 minutes left to play, and Katoa’s conversion snuck in from the sideline to extend the lead to 36-10.
A late try from Sharks lock Ethan Cocco and a conversion from Hay proved to be mere consolation for the well-beaten Cronulla side.
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