The Panthers’ NSW Cup side got back to their winning ways today after a solid performance over the Sharks at Carrington Park in Bathurst.
In sunny but very soggy conditions following plenty of rain overnight, Garth Brennan’s men put a good game plan into action to come away with a 22-14 victory.
We had a few team changes before kickoff with Tim Grant and Sam Anderson ruled out, which saw Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Luke Capewell come into the starting side.
Rain started to fall right on kickoff but it didn’t bother flying Fijian Eto Nabuli who scored the first try of the day, after some beautiful ball work that started with Dave Simmons in the centre of the field who sent the ball to Luke Capewell who passed to Kieran Moss, who then threw a perfectly timed cut out pass to Nabuli on the wing, and he sprinted to the line and dived over just inside the corner post. Wes Naiqama’s conversion was waved away, so the Panthers took a 4-0 lead, 5 minutes in.
It would be another 20 minutes before another try was scored, and it was Penrith who went back to back after Capewell put Matt Robinson into a hole and sent him steaming down the field, before he passed to Kev Kingston on his inside and he sprinted the rest of the way to score. Will Smith took the kick from in front and extended the Panthers’ lead to 10-0, with 12 minutes until the half time break.
With 8 minutes on the clock the Sharks scored their first try of the day after some very poor defence by Penrith left Kurt Mann unmarked, and he scooted straight through the middle of two defenders and dived over the line. The kick was waved away so the score went to 10-4.
Penrith managed to keep the score line the same for the rest of the half thanks to some good defence.
HALF TIME: 10-4 Panthers
We were five minutes into the second half when we had our next try, and it came off a brilliant chip kick from Capewell in the centre of the field which landed just inside the in-goal where Waqa Blake and a couple of Sharks defenders went for the ball but missed; it bounced and Will Smith ran in and got it down! The kick was waved away, so Penrith extended their lead to 14-4.
Cronulla weren’t going down without a fight though and in the 52nd minute they had their next try, when Josh Portlock barged his way through our backline and steamrolled his way over the line. The conversion was unsuccessful, so the score went to 14-8.
They backed that up a few minutes later after winger Justin O’Neill broke away and sprinted down the sideline before offloading to Nathan Gardner who carried the ball over the line. The kick went straight through the uprights this time, to lock the scores at 14-14.
After another 10 minutes of yo-yo football, the Panthers were awarded a penalty in the 70th minute after Vaipuna Tia Kiifi was caught up in a dangerous tackle, and Will Smith sent the ball through the uprights to put Penrith two points in front.
In the final 10 minutes of the match, the Sharks tried desperately to get across their line but Penrith’s defence held strong, with a stand out performance from Nabuli who made a try-saving tackle on Justin O’Neill to keep them from scoring.
Then in the final minute of the match, Capewell sent a brilliant pass out to Wes Naiqama on the sideline and he sprinted over the line to score as the final siren sounded. Will Smith’s conversion sealed the win for the home side 22-14.
FULL TIME: 22-14 Panthers
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