The Cronulla Sharks have held on to a slim lead at Remondis Stadium this afternoon, to defeat the Penrith Panthers 24-20.
The Sharks were up against it before the game even started, after losing Jonathan Wright in the warmup through injury. They were buoyed by the return of Beau Ryan and Anthony Tupou from injury, and also by the signing of Andrew Fifita earlier this afternoon.
The Panthers came out strongly, and controlled the tempo of the game throughout much of the first half. Josh Mansour continued his form from previous weeks, crashing over for a try in the 9th minute, to open the account early for the Panthers.
The Sharks hit back through Todd Carney minutes later, however Carney was forced from field after injuring his hamstring in the act of scoring the try.
Penrith looked in control through most of the first half, and it was only a 39th minute try from Ricky Leutele that kept the Sharks in the game at half time, where they trailed 10-12.
But it was a different Sharks side that came out in the second half. Tenacity and guts were two words that would describe the Sharks performance late in the game - their scramble defence particularly indicative of this.
The lead changed three times late in the game, when Michael Gordon, Peter Wallace and Jeff Robson all scored tries.
Trailing by four points with only a minute remaining, the Panthers looked to have snatched the game from the Sharks, when it looked like they'd scored a try. Upon video referee inspection, Adam Docker was ruled to have caused an obstruction, so the Sharks held on for the win.
Jeff Robson was impressive, particularly considering he lost his halves partner early in the game, and was the sole kicking option for the Sharks throughout the game. Gordon also ran the ball strongly, and Tupou was also strong in his return.
The Sharks will take on the Eels next week, while the Panthers will take on the Knights on Sunday afternoon.