The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Penrith Panthers overcame a sluggish first half to record an impressive victory over the Sharks on Sunday afternoon, putting the Cronulla side to the sword by 32-12.
The two halves were in stark contrast, as the Sharks had the better of the first half, creating several try scoring opportunities but they weren't able to capitalise. Without captain Craig Gower, the Panthers looked unable to put on any creative plays on the last tackle, hurting their ability to score points.
At the break, the Sharks held a 12-6 lead.
However the second half was a different story, as Amos Roberts took a lot more responsibility and directed the Premiers around the park successfully. He set up several tries and scored another, taking his top tryscoring tally to 14 for the year.
But it was Frank Pritchard who caused the real damage, as he made some barnstorming runs, setting up a length of the field try and scoring another one himself. The Panthers must be desperate to retain the off-contract youngster, who continues to grow in stature and confidence each week.
The Sharks obviously missed the presence of chief playmakers Brett Kimmorley and David Peachey, as they have lost two on the trot without them. The Panthers however will be buoyed by that victory, considering captain Craig Gower is all but a certainty to return to the field next weekend.
Scorers: SHARKS - 12 Tries: Bird, Sullivan Goals: Hilder 2/2 PANTHERS - 32 Tries: Wesser, Priddis, Pritchard, Roberts, Rooney, Waterhouse Goals: Roberts 4/6
By the clock: PRE-MATCH: For the Panthers, Ben Rogers comes in for the injured Craig Gower, and Danny Galea comes onto the bench for Shane Rodney. For the Sharks, Greg Bird comes into 5/8th with Paul Gallen moving into the forwards.
0 min: Beautiful sunny conditions for rugby league, although there is a strong wind circulating the ground. The Panthers kickoff, and we're underway!
5 min: TRY - Panthers. The Panthers received a few easy piggybacking penalties, which enabled the Panthers to get some good field position. Rhys Wesser ducked through some Sharks defenders close to the tryline and crashed over to score. Roberts converts. 6-0 Panthers.
10 min: NEWS - After The Sharks had a few opportunities on the Panthers goalline, it looked as if Phil Bailey had scored a try, but further replays ruled that it was a double movement. The video referee ruled a no try and a penalty to the Panthers.
13 min: TRY - Sharks. Greg Bird took the ball from dummy half close to the Panthers line and beat some soft defence to score. Hilder converts. 6-all
17 min: NEWS - Back and forth match thus far, although the Sharks are making the most of their opportunities.
21 min: NEWS - Errors are creeping now into this match, with both teams being guilty of committing them.
24 min: NEWS - The Sharks are looking much more adventurous and dangerous in attack, although it's not showing on the scoreboard. Also, Joe Galuvao has been taken off with a knee injury and is in doubt of returning.
31 min: NEWS - The fifth play options from Penrith have been non-existant. They're just looking to go one out at every opportunity. It's their defence that's keeping them in the game so far.
32 min: TRY - Sharks. Michael Sullivan makes an impact off the bench by darting from dummy half like only he can, crashing through some soft tryline defence from the Panthers. Hilder converts. Sharks 12-6
40 min: The Panthers hold off a strong attacking raid from the Sharks just before half time.
HALF TIME: The Sharks have looked the better team, although they could have scored a lot more points if it weren't for the Panthers scrambling defence.
Completions - Sharks: 18/22 Panthers: 18/22 Line Breaks - Sharks: 3 Panthers: 1 Mistackles - Sharks: 11 Panthers: 24 Offloads - Sharks: 12 Panthers: 1 Errors - Sharks: 5 Panthers: 4
41 min: The Sharks kickoff as the second half is underway!
43 min: NEWS - No Try Panthers. Rhys Wesser races 40m to score after a loose pass from Luke Priddis looked to go forward, although it may have been touched by Matt Hilder. The video referee ruled a no try.
51 min: TRY - Panthers. Luke Priddis dove over from dummy half to score. The dummy half runners are having a field day this afternoon. Roberts misses a relatively easy conversion. Sharks 12-10
55 min: TRY - Panthers. Pritchard beats Phil Bailey to steam over the line. The Panthers are looking the goods in the second half with a lot of possession. Roberts misses the conversion. Panthers 14-12
57 min: TRY - Panthers. Penrith are on fire! Pritchard made a good break and passed inside to Amos Roberts who completely showed up the Cronulla fullback with a step, racing 70 metres to score. Roberts converts his own try. Panthers 20-12
60 min: TRY - Panthers. Luke Rooney picks up an Amos Roberts grubber to score. Roberts converts. Panthers 26-12
67 min: NEWS - Frank Pritchard is carving them up and almost had another opportunity to setup another try. The Sharks are well out of this contest now.
74 min: TRY - Panthers. After a host of possession, Penrith scores again after Trent Waterhouse crashes over from short range. Roberts converts. Panthers 32-12
80 min: FULL TIME. After a back and forth first half, Penrith have gone on to demolish the Sharks in the second half. A strong victory for the men from the mountains.
Completions - Sharks: 28/38 Panthers: 35/45 Line Breaks - Sharks: 3 Panthers: 8 Mistackles - Sharks: 38 Panthers: 36 Offloads - Sharks: 19 Panthers: 10 Errors - Sharks: 12 Panthers: 10
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Frank Pritchard (Panthers) 2 - Amos Roberts (Panthers) 1 - Danny Nutley (Sharks) -----------------------------------------