Penrith have given up a 24 point lead to suffer their first loss in 12 weeks, going down to Newtown 31-30 at Allianz Stadium.
Garth Brennan’s men dominated the first hour of the game and looked to have everything wrapped up after putting 30 points on the Jets side, but it all fell apart when Newtown scored their second try and Penrith couldn’t regroup.
They made countless mistakes in the final 20 minutes, and numerous attempts at a field goal to level the score proved fruitless, so Newtown hung on for the win.
Here’s how the match played out.
The Panthers scored first after a massive cross-field kick from Tom Humble which headed straight for the in-goal on the left side of the field. Eto Nabuli nd a Newtown defender jumped for it but both of them missed; when the ball bounced Nabuli managed to regather and planted it down before it went over the sideline. Wes Naiqama narrowly missed the conversion, so Penrith took a 4-0 lead, 3 minutes into the game.
The Jets hit back a few minutes later when Nathan Stapleton caught a beautiful chip kick on the 10m line, leaving Penrith a little stunned, and he ran the ball over the line unopposed. The kick was on target, so Newtown took the lead 6-4.
But Penrith were quick to respond and capitalised on a dropped ball from the Jets, with Waqa Blake sending a quick pass to Naiqama who was unmarked about 15m out near the sideline, and he sprinted to the line to dive over near the corner post. He converted his own try to put the Panthers ahead 10-6, with 15 minutes gone.
We backed that up soon after when Matt Robinson broke through a Newtown tackle and took off before offloading to Luke Capewell 20m out, and he carried the ball over the line to get it down behind the posts. Naiqama sent the ball straight through the uprights, taking the score to 16-6.
Our third unanswered try came in the 25th minute after a brilliant offload from Vaipuna Tia Kilifi on the 20m line, with the ball finding Kieran Moss, who then threw a cut-out pass to Naiqama on the wing, and he barrelled his way through a pack of defenders and stretched his arm out over the line. The kick was waved away, so the score went to 20-6.
For the remainder of the half, both sides attacked hard but couldn’t break through for the points.
HALF TIME: 20-6 Panthers
7 minutes into the half, Anthony Cherrington scored his first try of the season after Penrith spread the Jets defence and gave him enough room to charge at the line and stretch his arm out to get the ball over the line. The kick just missed, so the Panthers moved to 24-6.
Our next try came courtesy of a Tom Humble grubber kick which landed perfectly just inside the in-goal where Waqa Blake got a hand to it and batted it back to Nathan Smith, who jogged around behind the posts to plant it down. Naiqama’s kick put the Panthers ahead 30-6.
Newtown managed to get their second try of the day after a cross field chip kick bounced off the hands of several players right on their goal line, and #15 David Harris picked up the loose ball and got it down over the line. With the conversion, the score went to 30-12, with 20 minutes remaining.
They backed that up a few minutes later after they stole the ball in a Panthers fed scrum, and after a couple of tackles prop Kane Evans got close enough to the line to stretch his arm out over the line. With the kick, Newtown had narrowed the score to 30-18.
Penrith was struggling to get it together and with 13 minutes on the clock they scored another try, thanks to a close range grubber kick that bounced up inside the in-goal. Naiqama tried to bat it out of play but he missed, giving Jets fullback Jonathon Reuben a chance to run in and get it down before it went dead. The kick floated perfectly with the wind to bring the Jets to 30-24.
They levelled the score with 8 minutes on the clock after a couple of quick cut out passes caught the Panthers off guard and then a missed tackle saw Newtown winger Matt Evans get the ball down right on the line at the corner post. The sideline conversion went straight through the posts, bringing the scores to 30-30.
A mistake from the kick-off gave the Jets an immediate advantage and they made the most of it, with halfback Scott Dureau booting a field goal to put them one point ahead.
As the clock ticked down the Panthers tried desperately to level the score with a field goal of their own, but Newtown charged down every attempt to come away with the win, and end Penrith’s winning streak.
FULL TIME: 31-30 Newtown