Sunday’s only NRL Round 18 match is between Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks. The opening bounce is set to commence at 14:05 local time with the game to be played at Pepper Stadium. The away team Cronulla Sharks are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks.
When: 14:05 | Sunday 10/07/2016
Where: Pepper Stadium
Tip: Cronulla Sharks at $2.10
Value Tip: First Try Scorer: Matthew Moylan at $15.00
Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Zak Hardaker 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 6. Bryce Cartwright 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Leilani Latu 9. Peter Wallace 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard 11. Isaah Yeo 12. James Fisher-Harris 13. Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14. Suaia Matagi 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Chris Grevsmuhl 17. William Smith.
Sharks: 1. Ben Barba 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Ricky Leutele 4. Gerard Beale 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Chad Townsend 8. Matt Prior 9. Michael Ennis 10. Sam Tagataese 11. Luke Lewis 12. Jayson Bukuya 13. Chris Heighington. Interchange: 14. Matt McIlwrick 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Joseph Paulo.
Once touted as the next big thing, Nu Brown looks set to get his chance to prove his worth in James Maloney’s absence for the depleted Cronulla this weekend.
Brown appears set to play his first NRL match in two years as Shane Flanagan’s side feels the effects of the representative period talent drain.
The 21-year-old Samoan Test representative was heavily hyped when he came into grade in 2014 but an ACL injury suffered at last year’s Auckland Nines set him back a season while the acquisition of Maloney and Chad Townsend sent him down the pecking order.
He got his first taste of first grade in 2014, thrown into the halves in the back end of the season following Todd Carney’s sacking for the infamous “bubbler” photo incident and managed 11 games that year.
He is also well remembered as the player who microwaved his iPhone in an attempt to recharge it.
“He’s been impressive so far in what he’s been doing in NSW Cup and his game for Samoa,” Townsend told AAP.
“If he gets the chance, I’ll definitely be confident he can do the job.”
Brown trained alongside Townsend in the halves at Southern Cross Group Stadium and looks set to be among a host of new names for the ladder-leading Sharks this weekend.
The Sharks face the startling prospect of going into Sunday’s clash with the Panthers at Pepper Stadium as rank outsiders despite riding a club-record 12 NRL streak.
Without Maloney, Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Jack Bird and Wade Graham, who are away on State of Origin duties, they face the biggest test of their three-month-long winning run.
Having used just 19 players all season, they are expected to blood five new faces including Brown, giving them the first real test of their depth in the 2016 season.
With dominant playmaker Maloney away, Townsend said he expected fullback Barba to get his hands on the ball a lot more and to be given a creative licence.
“I think (Barba) was a little bit hard done by, by not be picked for Queensland. He’s in some of the best form of his career,” Townsend said.
“It’s a pleasure to watch – him in a bit of space is what we want to see.
“I think this weekend with Jimmy missing, we will see Benny step up and get a bit more ball in his hand and stand up a bit more at first receiver and take a bit of pressure off the boys.”
Mitch Brown is expected to get his first call up of the year while former Manly forward Jesse Sene-Lefao is expected to make his club debut.
Winger Valentine Holmes (hamstring) is expected to return after missing Saturday’s win over Parramatta however Ricky Leutele is in doubt with an ankle problem.
*Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change