Teenage sensation Charlie Staines grabbed four tries in an incredible debut as the Panthers roared back to the top of the NRL ladder with a 56-24 win over Cronulla at Kogarah.
The Panthers scored five tries in a complete shut-out of the Sharks to start the game, leading 26-0 and leaving their opponents reeling. At one stage, the Sharks didn’t touch the ball for a full 10 minute period.
While Cronulla scored the final two tries of the first half to narrow the margin at the break, Penrith ruled out any chance of a comeback by scoring early in the second half to take full control of the contest.
The Sharks were never really in the game and the Panthers looked in total control, even when they did suffer the occasional lapse in concentration to give their opponents a sniff.
The highlight of the afternoon was the four tries on debut from Staines, who was called into the game late to replace an injured Dean Whare.
The win moves Penrith to the top of the ladder, but Parramatta can reclaim the competition’s lead if they beat Newcastle tomorrow.
Sharks coach John Morris said his side was “broken mentally” by Penrith’s fast start to the game.
“The pressure just built and the scoreboard got out of hand,” he said.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says he’s happy with where his side is sitting at present.
“I’m pleased with the way we’ve been able to be consistent,” he said.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.