The Panthers have another win under their belt, but only just, after beating Wests Tigers 22-14 in a scrappy game at Sportingbet Stadium this afternoon.
It was a match that played out like a tennis rally as both sides fought hard to carry the ball to their end, only to have it brought all the way back in the next set. And despite the Tigers sitting third on the ladder and Penrith in tenth, it was a fairly evenly matched contest.
Both teams were coming off three wins in a row, and were keen to get another two points. Here’s how the game played out.
The Panthers were first to put points on the board 10 minutes into the game, when Isaac John opened up some space through the middle and ran around a couple of defenders before offloading to Captain Nathan Smith who sprinted to the line and dived over! Wes Naiqama converted and the home side took an early 6-0 lead.
But it didn’t take long for the Tigers to get one back after catching Penrith’s backline off-guard on the 10m line, winger Taqele Naiyarruoro ran straight through Isaac John and Wes Naiqama who didn’t even flinch, and put the ball down next to the uprights. With the conversion, Wests Tigers levelled the score at 6-6, with 20 minutes down.
They didn’t mess around getting their second, and a few minutes later they had the ball within metres of their line and attacked our left wing, with fullback Jy Hitchcock barging his way over. The kick missed so the visitors took a 10-6 lead, with 14 minutes until half time.
But the Panthers weren’t giving up that easy and after capitalising on a Tigers mistake from the kick off, Matt Robinson showcased his skill under pressure and as he was being tackled centimetres out from our line he offloaded a brilliant pass to Will Smith, who snapped it up and plonked the ball down over the line. Naiqama was on target with the conversion and Panthers were back in the lead 12-10.
The last few minutes of the game continued back and forth with no result, until the siren sounded.
HALF TIME: 12-10 Panthers
The half time break seemed to reinvigorate the home side and for the first 15 minutes of this half they dominated possession and pushed the Tigers defence to the limit. Play had to be stopped 13 minutes into the half when Tigers #19 Corey Brown was knocked out during a tackle on Will Smith. Once he was helped from the field, the Panthers continued on the attack.
After numerous attempts we finally made it over for another four-pointer and it came courtesy of Kevin Naiqama who was left unmarked on the wing. John sent a long ball out wide, passed several Tigers defenders, and Kev ran into score. Will Smith took the kick but it bounced off the uprights, so the home side extended their lead to 16-10 with 22 minutes to go.
Not satisfied with that, the home side added more points to the board a few minutes later after recapturing the ball from our own goal line drop out and getting it up to our 30m line, where Luke Capewell put a bomb high over everyone’s heads. When it came down, the Tigers stood by and watched it bounce straight into the arms of Will Smith, who dashed through them and sprinted to the line to score! Converting his own try, he took Penrith to a 22-10 lead with 15 minutes on the clock.
With less than 6 minutes to go the Tigers finally got close enough to their line to pounce, and they made the most of the afternoon sun glare, with centre Setafano Taukafa catching our left wing off-guard and barging his way over in the corner. The conversion was way off so the score went to 22-14.
From here, both sides had one more shot at their goal lines, but neither could come up with the goods, and the Panthers went home with the two points.
FULL TIME: 22-14 Panthers