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Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 28 v Penrith Panthers 32
at Toyota Park
Referee: Jason Robinson
The Penrith Panthers have put together 24 points in 17 minutes to defeat the Cronulla Sharks 32-28 at Toyota Park this evening.
The Sharks were leading 28-8 midway through the second half and looked set for a big win. But in an amazing turnaround, the Penrith forwards suddenly went up a gear, rolling over the top of their opponents.
Penrith opened the scoring after 11 minutes and were in again 10 minutes later to take an 8-0 lead. The Sharks stepped up to the challenge late in the half, scoring two quick tries and at half time, held a narrow 10-8 lead.
The Sharks went further ahead after the break with winger Darren Albert getting the first of his double. Albert was in again in the 48th minute and at 22-8, the home side appeared to be cruising.
With five eighth Adam Dykes calling the shots, Sharks back rower Paul Gallen scored his second try and at 28-8, a thrashing looked to be on the cards.
But the Panthers were far from done with fullback Rhys Wesser sparking a revival with a try in the 63rd minute. Forward Craig Stapleton capped of sensational second half to score six minutes later and put the visitors just eight points behind.
With the momentum going all their way, the Panthers closed the gap to two when Wesser bagged his double in the 71st minute. Centre Lee Hookey scored the match winner with two minutes remaining.
With two rounds to go, the result effectively ends Cronulla's season. Sitting on 22 competition points, the Sharks are at best four points adrift of the top eight. It is the eighth consecutive loss for the Sharks while the Panthers move up to 24 competition points and still an outside chance of earning a finals berth.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 28
Tries: Paul Gallen(2), Reece Williams, Darren Albert(2)
Goals: Luke Covell 4/5
Penrith Panthers: 32
Tries: Luke Rooney, Rhys Wesser(2), Craig Stapleton, Lee Hookey, Michael Gordon
Goals: Preston Campbell 4/6
By the Clock:
The NRL's 'Sixties week' and a beaut afternoon for footy in Sydney - the season on the line for both sides.
10 min: NEWS Still 0-0. Both sides sorting each other out and pretty evens for possession. Panthers having a better share of field position and getting a repeat set now.
11 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Winger Michael Gordon scores out wide after Preston Campbell and Rhys Wesser combine to create the overlap. Campbell unsuccessful with conversion.
20 min: NEWS Still 4-0 to the Panthers. A couple of opportunities for the Sharks who come close, but are repelled by the visitors.
21 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Winger Luke Rooney scores in the corner on the back of some sharp passing from Trent Waterhouse and Lee Hookey. Campbell unable to convert.
27 min: NEWS Panthers half back Craig Gower injured following a head knock on the ground. Seems OK. Brief stoppage while he is attended to.
29 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Back rower Reece Williams runs through a gap and scores next to the posts. Follows repeat sets at the line as the Sharks are bombing Campbell. Luke Covell converts.
32 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Paul Gallen dives on a loose ball 5m in from touch following a grubber from Adam Dykes. Campbell fumbles and the Sharks hit the front. Wide conversion attempt from Covell is waved away.
35 min: NEWS Panthers bomb a try after Danny Galea is unable to take pass on the chest, with the line wide open.
Half time: Sharks 10-8
The home side just in front. Possession evens with the Panthers getting sonme quick play-the-ball in the first half hour before the Sharks responded in the same manner. The Panthers on the back foot for the last 10 minutes of the half. This match is up for grabs.
Second half underway...
45 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Darren Albert scores near the posts after surviving video ref scrutiny, firstly over the decoy runners and then over the put down. Covell coverts.
Follows another fumble from Presto in the in-goal.
48 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Albert gets his second as the Panthers open up from close range. A soft try coming off the back of some easy yards as the Panthers invite their opponents downfield. Sharks taking full advantage and look to be killing them. Covell converts from easy range.
54 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Gallen gets a double, scoring near the posts. Follows a grubber from Dykes and Wesser is unable to clean it up. Plenty of chasers sees in the video ref get involved but Gallen gets the nod. Covell converts
63 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Wesser scores 10m wide of the posts after the Panthers forwards get a roll on downfield. Wesser heavily involved and trying to spark a comeback. Campbell converts.
69 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Front rower Craig Stapleton storms over the defence to score 10m wide of the posts. Campbell converts and only 8 points in it now.
71 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Wesser scores his 101st carerr try 15m wide of the posts. The Panthers forwards are now carving their way through the Sharks pack. Campbell converts and Penrith have all the momentum.
75 min: Possible TRY to the Panthers... video ref looking...
VERDICT: NO TRY. Danny Galea stopped by a try saving tackle from Albert who pushes him into touch.
76 min: NEWS Panthers win the scrum against the feed!
77 min: NEWS Sharks survive as the season for both clubs all comes down to the last few minutes.
77 min: NEWS Lance Thompson (Sharks) knocks on!
78 min: Possible TRY to Panthers... video ref checking...
78 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Lee Hookey gets the green light and scores what should be the match winner. Follows grubber from Campbell. Campbell converts. Sensational comeback.
79 min: NEWS Sharks get the ball from the kick off!
80 min: Panthers survive and its all over.
Full time: Panthers win 32-28.
An incredible match with no clear winner until the final seconds. Amazing comeback from the Panthers who looked shot to bits mid way through the second half. 20 points behind at one point, the Pnathers have scored 24 points in 17 minutes to take the match and effectively end the Sharks' season.
Fullback Rhys Wesser and prop Craig Stapleton were great for Penrith while five eighth Adam Dykes and lock forward Paul Gallen were standouts for the Sharks.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Rhys Wesser (Panthers)
2 - Craig Stapleton (Panthers)
1 - Adam Dykes (Sharks)