The Panthers continue to dominate the NSW Cup after beating the Dragons 28-22 at Sportingbet Stadium this afternoon.
Despite some early mistakes and a sloppy finish, Penrith managed to hold the strong Illawarra side out to take home the two points.
We scored our first try in the second minute of the match when the Cutters mistimed a pass and the ball hit the deck, before Tom Humble scooped it up and took off down the field sprinting 60 metres before offloading to Waqa Blake who carried it the last 20m and over the line. Wes Naiqama converted to give us a 6-0 lead.
Illawarra hit back in the 7th minute when a grubber kick bounced off Tim Grant into some open space, and five-eighth Sam Duggan picked it up and ran over the line to score. Their conversion was successful also, to the scores drew level at 6-6.
In the 19th minute Waqa Blake went over for his second try! After some quick passes from the centre of the field, Kieran Moss sent the ball wide to Blake who dragged a couple of defenders towards the line before stretching out his arm to get the ball right on the white stripe. Naiqama’s kick was waved away, so the score went to 10-6.
Five minutes later we were over again, thanks to some quick thinking from Tom Humble, who was given the ball a metre out from our line, and dived underneath four defenders to score! Naiqama’s kick went straight through the uprights, extending the Panthers lead to 16-6.
The rest of the half played out like a tennis match with the ball travelling from one end of the field to the other, before solid defence sent it back down the other end.
With five minutes until the half time break, Shaun Spence had to be helped from the field after copping a knock to the head.
HALF TIME: 16-6 Panthers
We were six minutes into the second half when we scored our next try! Will Smith broke through the Cutters’ back line on halfway and sprinted 20m before passing to Kev Kingston, who sent the ball left to Kieran Moss and he ran it over the line. Naiqama converted from in front giving the home side a 22-6 lead.
In the 14th minute the Cutters went over for their second try of the day, after a chip kick bounced off a couple of players and into some open space about a metre out from their line, and Junior Tia Kilifi snatched it up and dived over the line. The kick was waved away, so the score went to 22-10.
They scored another one in the 61st minute when big prop Rory O’Brien steamrolled his way through a tackle and fell over to score under the posts. This time the kick made it, so Illawarra narrowed the score line to 22-16.
But that didn’t last long and in the 64th minute Waqa Blake scored his third try after he was on the receiving end of a beautiful offload from Ben Murdoch-Masila on the 40m line, and sprinted past several defenders to score. The kick went straight through the posts, extending Penrith’s lead to 28-16.
But Illawarra wasn’t giving up without a fight and with 8 minutes on the clock, they scored again when Shannan Wakeman put his head dead and stormed towards the line, making the most of some lazy defence to get him across the line. A successful conversion then put them within 6 points of the Panthers.
Penrith defended well for the remainder of the match and went home with the two points!
FULL TIME: 28-22 Panthers