In a scrappy and somewhat frustrating game at North Sydney Oval, the Panthers have withstood a late comeback to come away with a 32-28 win over the Bears this afternoon.
With countless mistakes from both sides, it was pure luck that saved Penrith from what could have been an embarrassing loss to the North Sydney side, which has only posted a couple of wins this season.
An hour before kick-off we got confirmation that Jamal Idris would be making his return to football, playing in the centres for Wes Naiqama who was being rested. He had an immediate impact on the game, making some good ground early and providing the crowd with some exciting big hits!
Penrith started very strongly and spent the opening 8 minutes of the match up their end, attacking their line. After several attempts we finally went over for our first try, with hooker Kevin Kingston barging his way through a pack of defenders. Will Smith converted to give us a 6-0 lead.
North Sydney hit back 7 minutes later after winning repeat sets up their end. They kicked on the 5th, sending the ball to the left side of the field where a bunch of players went for the ball, but it came down in the hands of the Bears’ Curtis Johnston who planted it firmly over the line. The kick went straight through the posts to level the score 6-6.
Kieran Moss put our next points on the board in the next play after finding a whole in North Sydney’s defence and taking off down the field, sprinting 80m to score unopposed under the posts. Smith sent the ball through the uprights to give Penrith the lead 12-6.
In the remaining 20 minutes of the half the ball see-sawed from one end of the park to the other, with both teams attacking hard but neither was able to put any points on the board. The Panthers made multiple errors and it almost cost them dearly, with the Bears coming very close to scoring on several occasions.
Then just as the siren sounded, the ref ordered one final play and Penrith made the most of it, sending the ball wide to Waqa Blake who batted it to Kevin Naiqama on the sideline. He stepped inside of a Bears defender and ran the ball over to score, much to the shock of North Sydney. Smith’s kick missed, so the score went to 16-6 at the half time break.
HALF TIME: 16-6 Panthers
The Bears opened the scoring in the second half after just a couple of minutes of play, when their big #13 barged his way over the line, taking a handful of Penrith players with him. The kick was on target, so they narrowed the score to 16-12.
It wasn’t long before the Panthers put another one on the board, with Waqa Blake collecting the ball 15m out before putting his head down and steamrolling his way over the line. The kick was waived away, so the score went to 20-12, in the 47th minute.
We backed that up with another try in the 59th minute, when Ryan Simpkins took the ball from dummy half a metre out from the line and faked right, before diving under the Bears defence to score. Smith was on target with the conversion, so the Panthers extended their lead to 26-12.
We made it three in a row a couple of minutes later when Ben Murdoch-Masila broke through a tackle on the halfway line and sprinted down the field, before passing to Moss who took it the last 20m. With the conversion, the score went to 32-12.
In the 68th minute North Sydney put another 6 points on the board after their winger was left unmarked and had plenty of room to move when he was handed the ball. With the conversion, they took the score to 32-18.
With five minutes of the game remaining the Bears scored another two very soft tries, after our defenders failed to withstand repeat sets against their line. That took the score to 32-28 as the full time siren sounded.
FULL TIME: 32-28 Panthers