Rugby League

Lethal Luai torches Sharks in perfect Origin tune-up

May 25, 2024 6:43 pm

[Source: NRL]

A Jarome Luai masterclass led the Panthers to a 42-0 shutout of ladder leaders Cronulla at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday night.

With his place in Michael Maguire’s Blues side already assured, Luai made a bird of it with his most dominant display of the season as the Panthers claimed their first win at PointsBet Stadium since 2012.

A dropped ball by Sharks winger Sione Katoa in the fourth minute handed the Panthers early field position and James Fisher-Harris powered over from close range to give the premiers the perfect start.

Article continues after advertisement

When Jesse Ramien put the ball down on Cronulla’s next set it was Luai displaying speed and footwork from 10 metres out to make it 12-0 with Dylan Edwards’ conversion.

With the Panthers cranking up their defensive intensity it was pressure from Luai forcing Nicho Hynes to put a kick out on the full but a mistake by Liam Martin let the Sharks off the hook.

Another kick out on the full by Hynes put the home side under more pressure before Katoa spilled his second kick of the night and Paul Alamoti scored from the srcumbase to make it 18-0 after 27 minutes.

The Sharks’ sixth error of the opening half again opened the door for the ruthless Panthers to cross through Edwards off a neat pass from Jack Cole.

With Hynes off the field for a head injury assessment the Sharks lacked direction in attack and came up with more simple errors to cruel their chances of closing the gap before the break.

Having laid on a try for his fullback, Cole then helped himself to a four-pointer to stretch the Panthers’ lead to 28-0 at half-time.

Hynes passed his HIA but did not return for the second half due to his ongoing calf problems and the Panthers went up a notch to score in the 47th minute through Liam Henry courtesy of a clever Mitch Kenny grubber.

With 20 minutes to play Luai grubbered into the in goal to earn the Panthers their fifth line dropout of the night but a strong hit by Royce Hunt on Fisher-Harris forced an error and the score stayed at 34-0.

With 14 minutes to play it was Cole coming up with another pinpoint kick which was allowed to bounce by the Sharks and Scott Sorensen powered through to grab the ball to score. Edwards piloted his sixth conversion of the night to make it 40-0.

An offside penalty against Thomas Hazelton in the 70th minute handed Edwards an easy penalty shot to take his personal tally to 18 points as the score hit 42-0.

A rare mistake by Edwards and the sin binning of Moses Leota with a minute to play gave the Sharks a shot at a consolation try but the Panthers refused to buckle.