The Panthers have ruined Mounties’ perfect record, serving up defeat for the first time this season with a 32-16 win at Sportingbet Stadium.
Today’s game was always going to be a cracker, with Mounties previously unbeaten at the top of the table and Panthers coming off back to back wins, with a stellar team on the park.
Isaac John had a brilliant game, setting up almost all of our tries, while Kevin Naiqama bagged a hat trick! Penrith’s defence was incredible and they managed to keep Mounties away from their line for the entire first half, and then only conceded three tries in the second.
Here’s how it went down.
Penrith got off to a flying start, literally, when five minutes into the game Isaac John put a bomb over to the left wing and a couple of Mounties defenders went for it, but big Fijian Eto Nabuli leapt over their heads and plucked the ball out of the air, before taking two big steps to place it down over the line. Wes Naiqama’s conversion was on target and the home side took an early 6-0 lead.
It was another 30 minutes before any more points were scored and lucky for us they went on the Panthers tally! It came off another John bomb in the centre of the field, which was touched by a couple of hands before it was batted back to Nathan Smith who barged his way through a couple of defenders and fell over the line! Naiqama’s kick was good again, and Penrith extended their lead to 12-0 with 8 minutes on the clock.
A couple of plays later we were over for our third, and once again it came off John’s boot. He put a kick over to the right wing where Kevin Naiqama was waiting in some space and stepped inside a defender to score. Wes’s kick hit the post and bounced out, so the score went to 16-0.
The Panthers were on fire and just before half time we were over again! John sent the ball up into the air, it was batted back by Wes Naiqama into the waiting arms of Will Smith who then took off running and offloaded to Kev Naiqama, who ran through some space and over to score! The kick missed again, so the home side went into the half time break 20-0.
HALF TIME: 20-0 Panthers
The second half began as fiercely as the first, with both sides hammering away at each other for the first 10 minutes. It was Mounties who broke through first this time, sending the ball wide to their left wing where fullback Joe Bond was waiting to run it up the sideline and over near the corner post. The conversion missed, so the score went to 20-4.
Similar to the first half, the two sides went toe to toe for the next 20 minutes with most of the play in the centre of the field. It was the visitors who came up with the goods again when Bond got his, and Mounties second try of the day. He picked up a bomb from halfback Mitch Cornish, side stepped a couple of our players and then ran it over the line to score. This time the kick was on target, so the visitors narrowed the score line to 20-10.
But Penrith wasn’t about to let those go unanswered, and with 7 minutes on the clock, Kevin Naiqama hit back with his hat trick, thanks to a brilliant pass from Tyrone Peachey in the middle of the park, to John on his right, who sent it to the wing where Kev was ready and waiting to dive over the line! His brother converted and took the Panthers to 26-10.
Peachey then backed that up with a try of his own, collecting the ball from dummy half on the Raiders 40m line before taking off down the field, sprinting more than 60m to run under the posts. Naiqama’s kick gave us the two and Penrith extended their lead even further to 32-10.
As the clock ticked down, Mounties had one final crack at their line after Mitch Cornish put in a cross field kick to winger Gus Aiga, who batted it back and sent Jeremy Hawkins into some space over in the right corner. With the conversion, the score went to 32-16, but it was too little too late for the visitors.
FULL TIME: 32-16 Panthers