Cronulla Sharks, led by Origin star Valentine Holmes’ double, held off a young Penrith Panthers side to run out 24-12 victors.
After Jarome Luai kicked the Panthers in front, the Sharks hit back with a try on 20 minutes. Edrick Lee did brilliantly not to give away a penalty for double movement. On the next play, Kurt Capewell got a pass away to Sione Katoa on the other wing.
Backing up from Origin, unlike the Panthers’ trio, Holmes scored next for Cronulla, his first of the game. An outside inside play involving Matt Moylan and Wade Graham set up the fullback.
The young Panthers were making mistakes but hanging in the game. They scored their opening try of the game just after the break. Luai stepped away from Chad Townsend, threw the pass to Tyrone May who found Waqa Blake.
But the Sharks hit straight back through former-Panther Moylan. Another outside inside play led to Moylan shrugging off defenders and grounding the ball.
Penrith continued to stay in the game. Corey Harawira-Naera scored off a May pass to reduce the deficit to six. They almost drew level through some Luai magic but Christian Crichton couldn’t reel in the halfback’s kick.
The Panthers were made to pay when Moylan broke through and found the rampaging Holmes on his inside with four minutes left on the clock.
Panthers: Aekins, Crichton, Blake, Whare, Phillips, May, Luai, Merrin, Katoa, Tamou, Kikau, Yeo, Fisher-Harris; Interchanges: Egan, Harawira-Naera, Hetherington, Leota
Tries: Blake, Harawira-Naera; Goals: Luai 2
Sharks: Holmes, Katoa, Capewell, Leutele, Lee, Moylan, Townsend, Fifita, Brailey, Prior, Sorensen, Graham, Gallen; Interchanges: Paulo, Segeyaro, Woods, Bukuya
Tries: Katoa, Holmes 2, Moylan; Goals: Townsend 4
Full match reports of all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.