John Morris challenges Cronulla Sharks to improve dismal completion rate against Penrith Panthers

Tough night: Shaun Johnson tries to spark the Sharks against the Roosters. Picture: John Veage
Tough night: Shaun Johnson tries to spark the Sharks against the Roosters. Picture: John Veage

Sharks coach John Morris said his side would be "desperate" for the two points in Cronulla's huge clash against struggling Penrith on Thursday night.

The Sharks welcome the Panthers to PointsBet Stadium looking to avoid a third straight defeat after they were humbled by the Sydney Roosters.

Cronulla must endure a short five-day turnaround from the heavy loss to the reigning premiers and will be sweating on the fitness of some key forwards.

Already without Aaron Woods, Wade Graham and Matt Moylan with long-term injuries, the Sharks could be without Andrew Fifita who picked up a hamstring problem on Saturday night.

Paul Gallen though is likely to return from his rib injury after only just missing out on playing the Roosters.

Morris has been frustrated with his side's completion rate which at a dismal 69 per cent is the second worst in the NRL - only ahead of Penrith - and said it would be addressed before the Panthers clash.

"I spoke to the boys and I said we're probably the worst in the comp for errors," he said.

"We've only had one game where we've had less than 10 errors. That was last week, we had five and got beat [by Parramatta].

"But we're still scoring a lot of points. We're still number one in the comp for line breaks. So we are a very potent team at times. Other times we are just [making] some schoolboy errors.

"Just some individual errors. I don't think it's much to do with our shape or anything like that. It's just guys missing their catch, not playing the ball properly. Poor passes. And not that we don't work on it, we work really hard on that sort of stuff. But at this level we can't get away with it. And until we start valuing the ball a bit more, we're just putting too much pressure on ourselves defensively, marching teams down the field.

"Up until [the Roosters match] we've defended our line really good but we leaked a few points on our line. Some really bad, bad missed tackles on our line."

The Sharks and the Panthers both sit outside the top eight after five rounds. But Cronulla will hope their excellent recent record over Penrith continues on Thursday night.

The Sharks have won their last six straight matches against Penrith and 11 of their last 13.

But Morris warned the Panthers would be keen to bounce back themselves after a poor defeat to the Titans.

"I think it's just an individual preparation thing. We had a lot to play for [against the Roosters]. I was really disappointed, actually. It was Old Boys' Day and we had a couple of past greats of our club speak to the boys before the game. They were really tuned in, had a good preparation," he said. 

"But individual responsibility to make sure you turn up. We haven't got much time to sit around and lick our wounds. We've got Penrith coming at us on the back of a disappointing loss for themselves up there against the Titans. So it's a huge game on Thursday night. Absolutely massive game for two clubs that are desperate to get the two points." 

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