The Panthers are out of the Auckland Nines finals after losing their third pool match against last year’s champions, the Cowboys.

Despite the 14-8 result, it was Penrith’s best performance of the tournament. Our boys completed their sets, created good opportunities to score and defended well against a very strong North Queensland side.

The Cowboys scored in the opening minute of the game, catching our wing defence completely off guard. They ran straight down the sideline before ducking inside to get the ball over the line. With the conversion they took an early 6-0 lead.

They scored again in the fourth minute after finding a hole in our back line and barging their way over. The kick bounced off the post so the score went to 10-0.

Soon after that, the Panthers put their first points on the board after Adrian Davis put a beautiful chip kick over to the corner where Josh Jay was waiting, unmarked, and he dived over the line. The kick was waved away so it went to 10-4 with a minute until the half time break.

North Queensland almost had another try in the dying seconds of the half, but an awkward bounce saw the ball go dead.

HALF TIME: 10-4 Cowboys

Penrith came out flying in the second half thanks to a Nathan Smith line break which took us up the field and forced a Cowboys line drop out.

We made the most of the regained possession when Davis put a grubber into the corner for Chris Smith to run onto. The kick missed so the score line narrowed to 10-8.

A Panthers mistake on the kick-off handed the Cowboys the ball and they scored off their next set, barging their way through our defence, to extend their lead to 14-8 with four minutes remaining.

In the dying minute of the match we came agonisingly close to scoring again, but a wayward pass saw the ball go dead with 5 seconds on the clock.

FULL TIME: 14-8 Cowboys