Panthers Jamie Soward scores a try:           NRL Rugby League, Round 16, NZ Warriors v Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart, Sunday June 29th 2014. Digital image by Shane Wenzlick, copyright nrlphotos.com

Warriors end Panthers winning streak

The Panthers’ winning streak has come to an end after a hard fought battle against the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium this afternoon.

Despite taking a 4 point lead into the half time break, we gave away too many penalties and couldn’t shut down the powerful Kiwi outfit in the second half, and they ran away with a 30-20 win. Adding to the disappointment was the loss of Jamie Soward to a suspected ankle injury at the end of the first half.

Here’s how the match played out.

It was a shocking start for the Panthers, after an early penalty handed the Warriors their first try in the second minute of the match. After regrouping in the middle of the field, the home side sent a few quick passes off to the right where Konrad Hurrell collected the ball, put his head down and charged at the line, dragging a group of Penrith defenders with him. Shaun Johnson’s kick went through the uprights, giving them a 6-0 lead.

 The Panthers were on the back foot and could not seem to put any plan of play into action. In the 13th minute, the Kiwis had their second try after a nice cut out pass from Sam Tomkins to Manu Vatuvei, who sprinted over the line. Johnson’s conversion gave the home side a 12-0 lead.

They almost had their third unanswered try in the 18th minute when Jayson Bukuya rolled over the line, but he was held up so play continued.

Then in the 26th minute, Penrith put their first points on the board after a solid charge at our line and a beautiful offload from Tyrone Peachey which put Jamie Soward into some space 10m out, and he dodged a few defenders, ran at the line and managed to stretch his arm out over the line underneath the posts. Sowie’s conversion took the score to 12-6.

A few minutes later we evened the score with another try! Getting the ball up to the 10m line, James Segeyaro got the ball from dummy half, passed to Sowie who sent it to Jamal Idris, and he offloaded to Josh Mansour who sprinted to the line and dived over to score. Sowie made the very difficult sideline conversion to level the score 12-12.

In the 36th minute the team doctor was called on to attend to Sowie after he went down in a tackle with a leg issue, but after walking to the sideline and chatting with medical staff he decided to play on.

With less than 90 seconds on the clock, we had our third unanswered try thanks to a beautifully timed chip kick from Pete Wallace, which went through a gap in the Warriors backline and into some open space in the in-goal, where Matt Moylan ran onto it to score. With Sowie’s leg injury, Moylan took the kick which drifted left of the posts, so Penrith took a 16-12 lead into halftime.

HALF TIME: 16-12 Panthers

As the teams came back from the half time break we had confirmation that Sowie would not be returning to the field, and would have to watch from the sidelines with a suspected ankle injury.

The Warriors opened the scoring in this half with a very soft try to Simon Mannering in the 46th minute. The home side drew our defenders in and then shifted play out to the wing, and despite the best efforts of Wallace, Mannering ran straight through a hole in our backline and dived over to score. Johnson’s conversion put the Kiwis in front once again 18-16.

For the next 15 minutes, the Panthers were put under intense pressure by the Warriors and had to endure repeat sets up their end. Eventually a silly mistake by Penrith gave the home side their next try, after Moylan released the ball in the in-goal, and Hurrell ran onto it and got it down just inside the dead ball line. Johnson made it four from four to extend the Kiwis lead to 24-16, with 18 minutes remaining.

But the Panthers weren’t going down without a fight, and in the 65th minute we had our next try! Wallace was passed the ball from dummy half, and he sent it to Moylan who flicked it to Jamal, who threw it back to him and he took off down the field, side stepping a few players before offloading to Segeyaro who sprinted for the line and got the ball down. Wallace took the kick this time but it was waived away, so the score went to 24-20.

In the 72nd minute the home side scored their fifth and final try, which would ultimately put victory out of reach for the Panthers. Shaun Johnson intercepted a pass on the halfway line and took off down the field, scoring behind the posts. He made it five from five conversions, putting then 10 points head.

In the final minute of the match, Wallace was sin binned for a professional foul on Sam Tomkins, which gave the Warriors a shot at goal. Johnson kicked but missed as the full time siren sounded.

FULL TIME: 30-20 Warriors