No one can accuse this finals series of the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition of being boring.
That was certainly not the case when the Cronulla Sharks sent the Panthers off with a 21 – 20 win in front of 19,000 spectators at Allianz Stadium.
Not to be outdone, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St. George Illawarra Dragons staged a thriller that went to South Sydney 13 – 12 in front of almost 50,000 souls at ANZ Stadium.
The Sharks now face a meeting with the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne, which will see its last NRL action of the year, as the Grand Final, regardless of which two of the four remaining clubs take part, will be at ANZ in Sydney.
After that game, it will be the final Sydney NRL derby of the year between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.
Cronulla seemed firmly in control of their match with the Panthers. They held Penrith scoreless for almost the entire first half before Nathan Cleary put up a two in the 40th minute. Cronulla went into the main break leading 18 – 2.
Things got interesting in the second half. The Panthers defence prevented any further tries, while putting up three of their own, flipping the script to outscore the Sharks 18 – 3 in the second half.
Nathan Cleary did everything he could, accounting for one of the Penrith tries and all four of their goals. His counterpart from the other side, Valentine Holmes, equaled Cleary in scoring, but missed one of his goals.
The other match was Adam Reynolds for the Rabbitohs versus the Dragons. The Bunnies were down 8 – 2 following the first half, with Reynolds’ goal being the only score for South.
Reynolds would wind up with South’s only try of the day, which did not come until the 56th minute. He made three goals and three field goals to earn Man of the Match honours.