Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs Penrith Panthers: Five things we learned

The Sharks managed to hold off a fast-finishing Penrith outfit to progress to a Grand Final qualifier with Melbourne next week, but what did we learn along the way?

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There’s nothing quite like the agony and heartbreak of a season being cut cruelly short. That’s the feeling Penrith fans across the country are waking up to after their narrow 21-20 exit at the hands of an experienced Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks outfit on Friday night.

The Sharks, who boasted far more key players with big-match finals experience definitely seemed to cope better with the intensity of the contest early and while Penrith failed to control the football and maintain possession, they pounced.

Tries to Chad Townsend, Valentine Holmes and the ever-green Luke Lewis sent Cronulla out to an 18-0 lead before the young Panthers managed to settle things down and pull two points back through a penalty goal in the dying seconds of the first half.

A stunning display of never giving up saw Nathan Cleary grab a four-pointer of his own before tries to Isaah Yeo and Waqa Blake saw the contest all squared up.

A 74th-minute field goal from Chad Townsend, one of the ugliest of his career no doubt, was the ultimate difference on the night as Cronulla won 21-20.

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