HEAD TO HEAD | Cronulla Sharks

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96 matches [1967-2021]

42 wins, 51 losses, 3 draws

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_cronulla.htm

Penrith’s connection with Cronulla pre-dated their admission to the 1967 Sydney premiership, with Penrith and what was then known as Cronulla-Caringbah being two of the ten teams established in 1963 for the then second division competition. Between 1963 and 1966, they met 9 times, with Penrith winning 4, including the 1966 final (just weeks after their July promotion), and 1 draw.

Their first meeting in the big league was in the opening week of the 1967 pre-season competition, at Redfern Oval on 24 February. The Panthers prevailed in a close encounter, registering a 18-12 win.

A few months later was their first meeting in premiership football, at Sutherland Oval. Penrith won 13-10. The return match at Penrith Park in the final round saw a more comfortable win to the home team, to the tune of 22-5.

The first 8 meetings, to the end of the 1970 season saw the Panthers have the better of the Sharks, winning 6 of these matches.

The fortunes of the 2 clubs into the 1970s were almost at opposite ends of the premiership spectrum, with Cronulla being regular finalists which culminated in 2 grand final appearances, whilst Penrith were stranded in the wilderness being more often than not rooted to the bottom of the ladder. Rather surprisingly, the honours were close to being evenly split during this time, with the ledger being Penrith registering 9 wins and a draw from 20 matches. This was highlighted by a 4 match winning streak that stretched the 1974 and 1975 seasons, however, this was tempered somewhat by a heavy 43-4 loss at Penrith Park in 1978, which remains the heaviest loss in the head to head history.

Going into the 1980s, the team from the Shire had the ascendancy, winning 10 of the 20 matches, and Penrith winning 7 with 1 draw thrown in. The decade was bookended by losing streaks, but Penrith had the better of Cronulla in the middle of the decade, which registered 5 wins and a draw between 1984 and 1986. The 50-14 victory at Penrith Park in 1986 at the time was the club’s second biggest win in their history.

The 1990s saw the two clubs square off 15 times, with the Panthers only getting the better of the Sharks 5 times, with also 1 draw.

The two clubs were participants in the one-off Super League season in 1997, with honours evenly split, with the home teams registering convincing wins (Penrith 38-10 at Penrith Stadium in Round 4 and the Sharks 44-20 in Round 15).

During the first decade of the new century, the Sharks (they dropped the Cronulla identifier from 1999 to 2003) maintained a healthier head to head record, winning 10 of the 17 matches. The wins that the Panthers registered in that decade, however, were full of highlights – a big 44-6 win at home in the final round of the 2000 season, a 20-0 shut out at Toyota Park in 2003, recovering from a 28-8 deficit to register a 32-28 at Toyota Park in 2006 and a golden point victory at the same venue again in 2008.

The new decade started with back to back wins in 2010, including a resounding 50-12 victory at Penrith in the final premiership round, which at the time became their biggest ever win against the Sharks.

However, Cronulla would have the wood over Penrith between 2011 and 2019, winning 12 of the 15 encounters. These three wins were a golden point victory in the shire in 2012, a 26-18 victory in the 2015 ANZAC Round at Pepper Stadium and breaking a seven match losing streak in late 2019 with what was best described as an upset 26-20 victory at Panthers Stadium.

Within this seven match streak was their first ever meeting in a finals series, the week 2 semi final in 2018 at Allianz Stadium. Cronulla led 18-0 midway through the first half before the Panthers stormed home in the second half with three tries to lock it up at 20-all with around 15 minutes remaining, with the more battle hardened Sharks managing the final minutes better and squeaking home 21-20 in regular time.

Just like ten years previously, a new decade would bring better luck for the Panthers, building on the 2019 victory to string together three more straight wins to make it four in a row. These three wins were big, starting with a 56-24 hiding at the Sharks temporary home at Kogarah, best known for the four tries scored by debutant Charlie Staines. This was followed up by two wins at Penrith, 38-12 later in 2020 and then a 48-0 demolition in 2021, superseding the record set in 2010 for biggest win over Cronulla. This was halted only a few weeks later when the Sharks outlasted an Origin depleted Panthers team 19-18 at Kogarah.

Last updated 13 November 2021

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