Our weekly feature - The Armchair Expert - returns just in time for the finals!
This week we look a...
5 hours ago
The Penrith Panthers have back-to-back wins for the first time in 2012 after defeating the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 21-20 in extra time in front of 7,848 fans at Toyota Park.
Half-back Luke Walsh nailed the winning field-goal to hand the Sharks their third straight loss.
The bad news began early for the Sharks with captain Paul Gallen, Todd Carney, Wade Graham and Bryce Gibbs all ruled out of the match, while the Panthers were boosted by the return of Michael Gordon.
It was all the home side early in the match as the dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes, however even three repeat sets at the Panthers' line was not enough.
A swing in posession and momentum halfway through the half saw the Panthers right on the attack and a cheeky little grubber from Walsh put Lachlan Coote over.
Back-to-back tries through Jeff Robson and Ricky Leutele in the final 10 minutes of the half saw the home side take a 10-6 lead into the half.
The Sharks could not have got off to a worse start in the second half after they sent a kick off out on the full. The Panthers continued to dominate possession as the half progressed before Coote claimed his double in the 49th minute. Walsh missed the conversion to leave scores levelled.
Leutele claimed his double in the 58th minute to hand the lead back to the Sharks. Townsend failed to convert keeping the Sharks' lead at four.
Walsh reclaimed the lead for the Panthers in the 70th minute after converting Matt Robinson's try, setting the platform for an exciting final ten minutes.
Tyson Frizzell appeared to have won the game for the Sharks in the 78th minute after Jeremy Smith put him into a hole. Townsend added the extras to give the Sharks a four-point-lead with less than two minutes of play left in the match.
A controversial call saw the Panthers with a scrum 40 out from the Sharks' line after a short kick off bounced into touch. From there, Michael Jennings found some space down the left touchline to score in the corner. Walsh failed to convert to send the match into extra time.
The home-side were given first touch of the ball in extra time and found themselves in field goal position on the last tackle. Townsend was handed the responsibility of taking the shot at goal. However, the kick was charged down by Jennings who streaked away before being tackled from behind only 10 metres out.
Walsh had no problem nailing the field goal from right in front to give the Panthers back-to-back victories for the first time in 2012.
The Panthers will head to Melbourne next week to take on the Storm. While the Sharks travel to Auckland to take on the Warriors.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20 were defeated by Penrith Panthers 21
National Rugby League - Round 21 - Saturday July 28, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger and Steve Lyons
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Jason Walsh and Brenden Wood
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10 Penrith Panthers 6
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (20)
Tries: Jeff Robson, Ricky Leutele (2), Tyson Frizell
Field Goals: Chad Townsend (0/1)
Conversions: Chad Townsend (2/4)
PENRITH PANTHERS (21)
Tries: Michael Jennings, Lachlan Coote (2), Matt Robinson
Field Goals: Luke Walsh (1/1)
Conversions: Luke Walsh (2/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening folks and welcome to Toyota Park where the Sharks take on the Penrith Panthers.
The home side have announced several late changes to their side. Todd Carney, Bryce Gibbs, Paul Gallen and Wade Graham are all out. Chad Townsend, Anthony Tupou, Jon Green and Mark Taufua will come into the side to replace them.
For the Panthers, they will be boosted by the return of Michael Gordon who replaces Etu Uaisele on the wing.
1 min: We are under way at Toyota Park.
4 min: Sharks receive a penalty.
5 min: Townsend goes to the air from 20 out on the last and David Simmons cleans up for the Panthers.
6 min: The Sharks will go on the attack after a mistake by the Panthers.
7 min: Townsend forces a line drop out.
8 min: Michael Gordon is trapped in goal on the back of a Geoff Robson grubber.
10 min: Josh Mansour diffuses a Robson chip kick and the Panthers survive.
11 min: A great kick return by Matthew Wright sees the Sharks in Panthers' territory on tackle one.
12 min: A lost ball 20 out from the Panthers' try line saves the day for the Panthers.
12 min: The Sharks receive a penalty 10 out from their own line.
14 min: The Sharks get a tackle count restart 20 out from the Panthers' line.
15 min: Issac De Gois is caught with the ball on the last tackle and the Panthers survive another shot at their goal line.
17 min: The Panthers receive a penalty 40 out from their own line.
18 min: Colin Best bats dead a Luke Walsh grubber and the Panthers will get a repeat set.
20 min: Gordon attempts a chip and chase on the last, but the ball goes out on the full and the Sharks are off the hook.
23 min: The Sharks receive a tackle count restart ten short of halfway after Michael Jennings is pinned for playing at the ball.
25 min: Panthers are 40 out from the Sharks on tackle one after Gordon finds space.
26 min: TRY
TRY! A cheeky little grubber from Walsh is grounded by Lachlan Coote under the posts and the Panthers open the scoring. Walsh adds the extras.
Penrith Panthers 6-0
31 min: Panthers are on the attack again.
32 min: Coote puts a little too much weight on his grubber and it roles dead.
35 min: TRY
TRY! Robson forces his way over the try line to score under the posts. Townsend adds the extras.
36 min: Sharks receive a penalty 20 out from their own line.
37 min: Ricky Leutele might have a try for the Sharks here.
39 min: TRY
TRY! Leutele scores in the right corner. Townsend fails to convert from the right touch line.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-6
40 min: A John Morris kick bounces over the dead ball line as the half-time hooter sounds.
41 min: We are under way in the second half, the Panthers will get first use of the ball.
41 min: The Panthers receive an early penalty and will go right on the attack.
42 min: A Panthers' dropped ball sees the Sharks off the hook.
48 min: Panthers are on the attack.
50 min: TRY
TRY! Lachlan Coote crashes over close to the side line for his double. Walsh fails to convert.
52 min: The Panthers will go right on the attack again after a knock on by the Sharks' a few metres out from their line.
53 min: The Panthers may have a try through Jennings here.
53 min: NO TRY! The Sharks will restart with a tap 20.
54 min: Sharks receive a penalty 40 out from their own line and will go on the attack.
55 min: The Sharks force a line drop out.
57 min: TRY
TRY! Leutele snares his double on the back of a cross field kick from Townsend. Townsend fails to convert from the touch line.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14-10
70 min: TRY
TRY! Matt Robinson levels the scores before Walsh adds the extras to give the Panthers the lead.
Penrith Panthers 16-14
73 min: Brad Tighe loses the ball 40 out from his own line and the Sharks will get an opportunity to hit back.
74 min: Jennings saves the day for the Panthers.
75 min: The Sharks will get a scrum on half way after an incorrect play the ball from the Panthers.
76 min: The Sharks get a fortuitous bounce and force a line drop out.
79 min: TRY
TRY! Jeremy Smith puts Tyson Frizell into a gap and Frizell scores. Townsend adds the extras.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20-16
80 min: The Panthers will get a scrum 40 out from the Sharks' line after the kick off bounces out.
80 min: TRY
TRY! The Panthers spread it out wide and Jennings scores in the corner. Walsh misses the conversion and this match will be decided in Golden Point extra time.
81 min: The Sharks will get first use of the ball in extra time.
81 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
Sharks are in field goal position on the last and Townsend attempts it but it's charged down by Jennings who streaks away before eventually being brought down only 10 out.
82 min: FIELD GOAL
Walsh nails a field goal from right in front and the Panthers have handed the Sharks their third straight loss.
Penrith Panthers 21-20