The Panthers have delivered Brent Kite a fairytale 300th game after posting a solid 26-10 win over Wests Tigers at Leichardt Oval this afternoom and moved to the top of the NRL ladder.
Ivan Cleary made a couple of changes to his side before kick-off with Lewis Brown coming into the starting side and Sika Manu dropping back to the bench. Bryce Cartwright was also promoted from 18th man onto the bench, with Nigel Plum being rested.
It was clear from the opening 10 minutes of play that this was going to be a fierce battle, with Kevin Naiqama coming agonisingly close to scoring in our opening set, and the Tigers testing our defence with a spell of three repeat sets up their end.
But it was the Panthers who crossed the line first in the 16th minute when James Segeyaro got the ball from dummy half and sent a beautiful ball to Matt Moylan, who found a hole in the Tigers defence and ran straight up and over the line behind the posts. Jamie Soward converted from in front to give Penrith a 6-0 lead.
In the next play Pete Wallace went down with an ankle problem and had to head back up the tunnel.
We almost had our second try in the 21st minute when Tyrone Peachey took the ball from dummy half a metre out from the line and dived over, but the video ref called obstruction by Jeremy Latimore and the Tigers were awarded a penalty.
In the 25th minute the Panthers were awarded a penalty after a late hit on Soward on the halfway line. We made the most of it and after getting the ball up to the 10m line, Matt Moylan sent a perfectly timed pass to Dean Whare, who found some space through two Tigers defenders and ran over the line. Soward’s kick extended Penrith’s lead to 12-0.
With 4 minutes until half time the Tigers looked like they would score their first try after Luke Brooks flicked an inside ball to Chris Lawrence and he took off towards the line. But a huge tackle from Matt Moylan forced the ball loose just as he was about to get the ball down, so play was called back and it was Panthers possession.
HALF TIME: 12-0 Panthers
Penrith opened the scoring for this half in the 48th minute after we were awarded a penalty 20m out from our line, after a dangerous tackle on Jamal Idris. In the first play we sent the ball across the field to the right, where Moylan threw a nice cut out pass to Kevin Naiqama on the wing, and he beat a Tigers defender to the line, diving over near the corner post. Soward missed the sideline conversion, so the score went to 16-0.
A few minutes later the home side put their first points on the board when former team mate Blake Austin ran the ball up to their 10m line before being brought down. Dene Halatau got the ball from dummy half and sent a quick pass left to Austin, who ran straight through our back line and stretched his arm out over the line to score. The kick from in front went straight through the posts, taking the score to 16-6.
Penrith made up for their mistake two minutes later and big Jamal Idris scored his first try in Panthers colours! After getting the ball to the 20m line, Tyrone Peachey ran it across the field before throwing a cut out pass to Idris who had plenty of space to move, and he ran straight between two Tigers defenders and dived over to score! Soward’s kick was waived away, so Penrith extended their lead to 20-6, with 22 minutes remaining.
We backed that up three minutes later with another try to Dean Whare! Soward threw a huge pass over the top of three players’ heads to Whare, who side stepped a couple of players and jogged over the line to score. Soward made the conversion, taking the score to 26-6.
In the 68th minute Elijah Taylor had to be helped from the field after copping a head knock. Not long after that, Adam Docker was taken off with the same thing.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Tigers scored the final try of the game when Chris Lawrence broke through our backline and charged forward, before offloading to Luke Brooks who took the ball over the line. The kick was waived away, so the score went to 26-10.
FULL TIME: 26-10 Panthers