In soggy, cold conditions at Leichardt Oval, the Panthers NSW Cup side have beaten Mounties 18-12 in a hard fought battle.
In the 15 minutes before kick-off a heavy downpour saturated the ground, which made for some very messy football. It also produced a couple of injuries with Vaipuna Tia Kilifi and Pat Hollis needing help to leave the field in the second half.
Penrith scored first in the 11th minute when Vaipuna Tia Kilifi stepped out of a tackle and made a break for it from about 15m out, before offloading to Luke Capewell who sprinted over the line. Wes Naiqama converted to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
Our second try came in the 22nd minute after we ran the ball up to our line and Tom Eisenhuth collected it a couple of metres out, before barging his way through the Mounties pack to fall over the line to score. Naiqama’s kick went straight through the uprights, extending Penrith’s lead to 12-0.
Over the next 10 minutes some solid Panthers defence withstood three very close try attempts from Mounties, but each time our boys forced an error in the wet conditions and earned a turn over.
With three minutes until the half time break, Mounties crossed for their first try of the day when Shane Shackleton got the ball up to the line and pushed his way over to score next to the posts. Terry Campese converted to take the score to 12-6.
HALF TIME: 12-6 Panthers
With conditions still very soggy under foot and the wind picking up a little, this half got off to a bit of a messy start. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi had to be helped from the field in the 49th minuted needing stitches, after being caught up in a nasty tackle.
Then in the 53rd minute, Pat Hollis copped a knock to the head and had to be taken off for a concussion assessment.
In the 61st minute, a Mounties mistake handed the Panthers their next try. We put a grubber kick towards our goal line from 15m out and it bounced off a Mounties player and was never regathered. A quick thinking Lani Latu dived on the ball as it rolled over the line as the ref called play on and awarded the try. Naiqama made it three from three with the boot, giving Penrith an 18-6 lead.
With 8 minutes on the clock, Daniel Foster was sin binned for getting into a scuffle with one of the Mounties boys.
A minute later Kieran Moss had to be helped from the field after copping a nasty knock to the head in a tackle.
In the final minute of the match, Mounties scored their second and final try after Ryan Carr found some space in the Panthers 12-man backline and ran over to score. Campese converted but it wasn’t enough, and Panthers went home with the win.
FULL TIME: 18-12 Panthers