Under blue skies and sunshine at Leichardt Oval, the Panthers NSW Cup side has put in a solid performance to beat Wests Tigers 40-20.
After weeks of posting narrow and scrappy wins, Garth Brennan’s side managed to stick to their game plan for most of the match, and despite a poor showing in the final 20 minutes, we’ll call it an impressive win!
The Tigers drew first blood at the 11 minute mark after Tom Eisenhuth dropped a bomb right near the line, and the ball was scooped up by Tigers winger Corey Brown, who ran around the back of a couple of Panthers players, and dived over to score under the posts. The kick went straight through the uprights, giving the home side a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers hit back in the 18th minute when Ben Murdoch-Masila broke through his former club’s defensive line and took off down the field, palming off several defenders before army-rolling over the line to get the try! Wes Naiqama converted to even the score 6-6.
We backed that up a few minutes later when Wes Naiqama found a hole in the Tigers defence and streaked off down the field, before offloading to Luke Capewell who sprinted 20m before being brought down a metre out from the line. After a few tackles, Liam Ayoub put a grubber kick just left of the posts and Wes ran onto it to get it down! He then added the extra two, giving Penrith a 12-6 lead.
With 10 minutes until the half time break, the Panthers scored their third try after a dropped ball from the Tigers gave us a scrum feed on the 30m line. From that, Capewell broke through a tackle and took off towards the line before getting a brilliant offload away to Will Smith 10m out, and he carried the ball over to score. Naiqama’s kick was right on target, extending our lead to 18-6.
We made it four unanswered tries after Tom Eisenhuth intercepted a pass 30m out to give Penrith possession. After a couple of tackles, Will Smith got the ball on the 20m line and dodged a few defenders before finding some open space to run in his second try of the day. Naiqama converted to give the Panthers a 24-6 lead, with 5 minutes on the clock.
Our fifth try came with less than 3 minutes until the half time break, when the Tigers sent a misguided pass straight into the arms of Tom Eisenhuth who couldn’t believe his luck and stood in stunned disbelief for a moment, before taking off towards our try line to score unopposed. Naiqama made it five from five with the boot, sending Penrith into the break with a 30-6 lead.
HALF TIME: 30-6 Panthers
The Panthers opened the scoring in this half in the 45th minute after Tom Eisenhuth picked up a loose Tigers ball 60 out from our line. We made our way up to our goal line and after drawing the defence off the wing, Will Smith sent the ball wide to Eisenhuth on the sideline who darted over near the corner post. Naiqama was slightly off target with the kick, so the score went to 34-6.
For the next 15 minutes the ball travelled from one end of the field to the other in rather sloppy fashion, with both teams coming close to scoring on several occasions but failing to get over the line.
Then in the 60th minute the Tigers got their second try after being awarded repeat sets up their end of the field. They dragged our defenders from one end of the field to the other, before #17 Inno Inosesio got the ball on the 10m line and ran through a hole in our backline to get the ball down under the posts. The kick went straight through the uprights, taking the score to 34-12.
They backed that up with their third try 7 minutes later after some very lazy defence from the Panthers. #24 Sonny Bristow got the ball 10m out from their line and dragged Liam Ayoub the whole way before falling over to score, as several Penrith players watched on. The sideline conversion was waived away, so the score went to 34-16 with 12 minutes on the clock.
Just as they have in previous weeks, the Panthers began to crumble at the back end of the match and with 9 minutes remaining, they let in their third unanswered try when Brenden Santi ran straight over the top of our defenders to get the ball down. The kick missed, but the Tigers were closing in 34-20.
With 3 minutes remaining Eisenhuth scored his hat trick after waiting patiently on the sideline for the ball to sail out his way, and when it did he dived over near the corner post. Naiqama was back to his kicking best and sent the ball through the uprights to give the Panthers an unbeatable 40-20 lead.
FULL TIME: 40-20 Panthers