Full Time
6:00pm Fri May 7, 2021
Round 9 - BlueBet Stadium, Penrith - Crowd: 16110

Match Overview

Penrith Panthers continued their perfect start to the 2021 NRL season with a 48-nil thumping of the listless Cronulla Sharks tonight at Penrith Stadium. 

The Panthers flexed their Premiership credentials again with an eight tries to none thrashing of the Sharks. Youngster Charlie Staines scored a hat-trick to make it seven tries in three games against them and again, another fantastic night at the foot of the mountains. 

Through the first 160 minutes of Round 9, both last year's Grand Finalists have shown their desire to tangle once again in the big dance. From the first hit up by James Fisher-Harris, the Panthers showed no mercy against the toothless Sharks.

It was another fine performance from the Panthers halves - Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai - who orchestrated the demolition. Cleary showed off with some fantastic no-look passes to help the Panthers to a 24-nil half-time lead. 

Known as the Forbes Ferrari, Charlie Staines has a knack of four-pointers against the Sharks. He debuted in spectacular fashion, scoring four tries at Kogarah Oval last season, his mates cheering on put on another match race tonight. His three tries all came from simple and structured plays before the youngster burned his defender to cost his local pub - The Post Office hotel - in Forbes more schnooners. 

Fisher-Harris was an unlikely first try scorer when he barged over from a Apisai Koroisau short ball but it set the tone for the first half. Next, it was the Panthers backline who got involved in the points. Staines crossing before Stephen Crichton back in his favoured centre position mopped up for 18-nil. Half turned centre Matt Burton swept onto the ball to make it 24-nil at the break. 

In the second half, the Panthers kept getting stronger while the Sharks surrendered from their first set. They looked for the sideline, the dead-ball line anywhere which would help them inch closer to the full-time siren. The home side didn't want the Friday night lights to go out as they continue to pack out Penrith stadium and treat their fans to some first class football each week. 

2021 looks to be a gap year for the Sharks after John Morris' dismissal. There was no energy in the side who never looked like troubling the scorers and it showed with interim coach Josh Hannay hooking Chad Townsend midway through the second half. Now, they need to find something to salvage anything and appease their fanbase who are rightfully unamused. 

Second half tries for Staines to complete his hat-trick alongside Villiame Kikau getting a generous call from the bunker alongside a first four-pointer in Panthers colours for Matt Eisenhuth completed the 48-nil scoreline. Nathan Cleary also put on a goal-kicking clinic potted eight from eight to motor up the top pointscorer ladder. 

That also makes it 14 straight wins at home for Penrith and takes their regular season winning streak to 24 games. It will take something spectacular to beat the defending Minor Premiers who round off Magic Round next weekend against the inconsistent Gold Coast Titans. 

3. Nathan Cleary

2. James Fisher-Harris

1. Stephen Crichton