The Panthers NSW Cup side are back to their winning ways after beating the Warriors 36-8 at Sportingbet Stadium in a match where everything went right for Penrith and everything went wrong for the Kiwis.
In very chilly conditions at the foot of the mountains the home side fought hard against the strong Warriors team that ran the ball very well and had a dozen more chances to score than us, but just couldn’t put their game plan into action when it really counted.
It was never going to be smooth sailing for the Panthers after coach Garth Brennan was forced to change his starting side significantly to accommodate rep games. Only a handful of players were able to start in their usual positions with a few Under 20’s boys given the call up to fill some spaces.
New recruit Ben Murdoch-Masila was also a surprise inclusion, after starting at the club just yesterday, and he made an immediate impact on the game proving lethal in defence and showcasing the footwork he is so well-known for.
Penrith got off to a horrible start, dropping the catch from the kick-off, which gave the Warriors an immediate advantage up their end. But despite getting to within metres of their line on several occasions in the first 10 minutes of the game, they fumbled the ball each time and handed possession back to Panthers.
Play continued with the ball travelling from one end of the field to the other, with no results. In the 15th minute, Daniel Foster was placed on report for a high shot on John Palavi.
The game remained scoreless for 30 minutes before another Warriors mistake produced the first try of the day! A Kiwi’s player dropped a pass right in front of Bryce Cartwright on their own 40m line, so Carty scooped it up and took off down the field before offloading to Will Smith who had the speed and the stamina to take it all with way with a beautiful try behind the posts. Cartwright converted from in front, and with just under 9 minutes until half time the Panthers had a 6-0 lead.
We almost had another 4 points a few minutes later when we barged our way over the line in the left corner, but the ball was held up so play continued. In the last few minutes of the half, the Warriors had two attempts at their line but on each occasion they fumbled the ball on the final tackle and turned the ball over to Penrith.
HALFTIME: 6-0 Panthers
For the first 10 minutes of the second half the Warriors had most of the possession and had several close attempts to score, but it just wasn’t happening for them today and they couldn’t put any points on the board.
In the Panthers’ next set, Cartwright put a nice chip kick over everyone’s heads from the 40m line and it bounced beautifully for Will Smith, who picked it up and palmed it back to Brendan Attwood, who then quickly offloaded to Daniel Foster who beat a couple of Kiwi defenders to the line to score. Carty’s boot was on target with the conversion again, and the home side extended their lead to 12-0.
The Warriors finally got it together in the 52nd minute when they sent the ball left to their winger Jarrod Tua who was unmarked, and he dodged a couple of Penrith defenders to run the ball over the line. The kick was waved away though, so the score went to 12-4.
But Penrith hit back in the 57th minute when Will Smith and Liam Ayoub paired up for a brilliant piece of football. Lani Latu passed the ball from the right side of the field to Ayoub in the centre, who then sent the ball left to Smith, who put a quick grubber kick along the grass and then nudged it again with his foot towards the goal posts, right into some open space for Ayoub to run onto it and carry it over the line! Smith converted and gave the Panthers an 18-4 lead.
We backed that up 5 minutes later with another try! Penrith was awarded a penalty on our 20m line, and with some very quick ball work we got the ball left through several players to an unmarked Tom Eisenhuth on the wing, who beat a Warriors defender to the line and dived over to score. Will Smith converted from the sideline and took the score to 24-4, with 17 minutes on the clock.
With 7 minutes remaining, the Warriors almost had another try, but like so many attempts before they lost the ball over the line and Penrith picked it up. But when they regained possession from the goal line dropout they made it count this time, and big prop Nathaniel Peteru barged his way through the Panthers back line and went into score. The kick was waved away again, so the score went to 24-8.
Leaving nothing unanswered, Penrith was over again in the 75th minute, thanks to some fancy footwork from Will Smith which got him close enough to the line to burrow his way over to score. He converted again, giving Penrith an unbeatable 30-8 lead.
The icing on the cake came in the final minute of the match when Ayoub gave the ball to Latu in front of the uprights and be barrelled his way over the line, taking a bunch of Warriors defenders with him. Smith’s kick took the score to 36-8 as the full time siren sounded.
FULL TIME: 36-8 Panthers