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Panthers v Sharks: Leniu sidelined; Talakai to start

The high-flying Panthers will be out to pile on more pain in Cronulla's finals hopes when they clash at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday night.

Penrith celebrated the return of Nathan Cleary with a comfortable 44-18 victory over the Bulldogs in Round 21 but across town in the Sutherland Shire was where the Sharks' season was put on the ropes by the Sea Eagles.

After winning three-straight and being well-placed for a top four finish last month, back-to-back losses has suddenly put Craig Fitzgibbon's side in a delicate spot on the ladder with rival clubs looking to leapfrog them. 

It doesn't get any easier for them with a clash against the premiers, who are on track for an elusive three-peat and have a recent record of 5-1 against the visitors. 

Team news
Panthers: Spencer Leniu (knee) has been replaced on the bench by Matt Eisenhuth. Centre Izack Tago remains sidelined with a leg injury that forced him out of Sunday's game against the Bulldogs. No changes in Friday's 24-hour update.

Sharks: Ronaldo Mulitalo has been ruled out in Friday's 24-hour update so Siosifa Talakai comes into the starting side and Connor Tracey to the wing. Kayal Iro has been named on the bench for his first NRL game since making his debut in Round 24 last season. Braydon Trindall remains the preferred five-eighth, which leaves Matt Moylan as the 18th man after he was dropped from the side ahead of Round 21. Captain Wade Graham is back from a toe injury and starts in the second row in place of Jesse Colquhoun, who has entered a early guilty plea on a Dangerous Contact charge and accepted a one-match ban. With no Dale Finucane, Cameron McInnes starts at lock. 

Stat Attack

  • The Sharks have not won at BlueBet Stadium since Round 18, 2018.
  • The Panthers have won five of their past six games against the Sharks.
  • Panthers centre Tyrone Peachey has scored six tries in his past three games at BlueBet Stadium.
  • Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo has scored 16 tries in his past 17 games.
  • Panthers second-rower Scott Sorensen will play his 100th NRL game.

Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.

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