Lucky 13 for NRL leaders Sharks in Penrith


Two first-half tries from Ben Barba helped NRL leaders Cronulla Sharks to a 13th consecutive win, overcoming Penrith Panthers 26-10 away from home on Sunday.

Fa'amanu Brown sent Barba over for the opening try in the 23rd minute, with the full-back pouncing to cross for his second 10 minutes later after Gerard Beale's offload went loose.

Both conversions were missed, meaning the Panthers trailed by just two points when Nathan Cleary added the extras to Leilani Latu's 37th-minute score.

Cleary was unsuccessful with a penalty that would have brought matters level on the stroke of half-time.

The presence of a black cat on the Pepper Stadium pitch early in the second half should have been a good omen for the hosts, but fortune favoured Cronulla after the restart.

Mitch Brown, appearing in his first NRL game in over a year having decided not to serve as best man at his brother's wedding, made it 12-6.

Further evidence that Cronulla's luck was in came in the 54th minute when Penrith full-back Will Smith's poor pass allowed Joseph Paulo to touch down, Chad Townsend converting and then adding a penalty to give the Sharks a 20-6 lead.

Luke Lewis scored Cronulla's fifth try to put the game beyond doubt 11 minutes from time and Isaah Yeo's 72nd-minute effort was little more than scant consolation for Penrith, who are eighth.