The Panthers’ NSW Cup team have produced a gutsy 34-20 win over the New Zealand Warriors to make it back to back wins at Pepper Stadium.
Here is how the action unfolded.
The Panthers struck the first blow in the 6th minute when Sam Scarlett threw a flat, short pass to Dave Simmons who pushed past a few Warriors defenders to score. Will Smith kicked the goal and Penrith took a 6-0 lead.
In the 10th minute the Kiwis bounced back with a try of their own. After a few decoy runs, the Warriors halves moved the ball behind the Penriths defence and David Fusitua ran on the burst through the Panthers outside defence. Api Powhairangi missed the conversion, so Penrith held onto a 6-4 lead.
New Zealand scored again in the 23rd minute when Glen Fisiiahi broke away down the touchline, evading a last ditch effort by the Panthers to stop him close to the line before planting the ball down. Powhairangi kicked the goal and the Warriors took the lead 10-6.
In the 36th minute the Warriors had their third unanswered try when David Fusitua threw a dummy to split the Panthers defence on his way to an easy run into the in-goal. Powhairangi converted the try to extend the visitor’s lead to 16-6.
In the final minute of the half the Panthers hit back with another 4-pointer after Will Smith chased a chip kick and caught the ball on the bounce for a 40 metre run to the try line, shrugging off a few Kiwi defenders on his way. He converted his own try and narrowed the gap to 16-12 heading into the break.
HALF-TIME: 16-12 WARRIORS.
Two minutes into the second half the Panthers levelled the score when Sam Scarlett threw a perfect cut-out pass over the top of some Kiwi defenders and into the hands of Eddie Aiono, who raced over to score close to the touchline. Smith sent the ball straight through the uprights to give Penrith an 18-16 lead.
Five minutes later we extended our lead when Nu’u Akeripa got on the end of some brilliant catch and pass football, pushed past Warriors defenders and dived over the line. Smith kicked another sideline conversion and the Panthers were in front 24-16.
In the 53rd minute the Warriors answered back with a try of their own when Ken Maumalo caught a short pass on his wing and stretched his arm out to slam the ball down, despite the best efforts of Sam Scarlett who tried to take him into touch. Powhairangi missed the conversion so Penrith maintained a 24-20 lead.
We pushed that margin out even further in the 63rd minute when Scarlett placed a well weighted chip chick to the left which bounced awkwardly for the Warriors fullback. Brendan Attwood took advantage of it as he picked up the ball to make a 10 metre try scoring run to the in-goal. Smith kicked the conversion and the Panthers were in front 30-20.
The final try of the match came courtesy of some freestyle footy in the 73rd minute. After a few desperate passes and some fancy no-look flick balls, Scarlett ducked and weaved past several Warriors defenders to plant the ball over the line. Smith missed the kick and the Panthers finished the match 34-20.
FULL-TIME: 34-20 PANTHERS.