The NYC Penrith Panthers have handed the North Queensland Cowboys a 36-10 loss and secured themselves a fifth consecutive win.
Having led 18-4 at half-time, the young Panthers consolidated their lead in the second half and secured a win that sees them remain at the top of the Holden Cup table.
It was Penrith with the advantage early with the Cowboys fumbling the ball 20m out after two minutes. Despite being held up twice over the line, Penrith couldn’t quite crack the Cowboys defence early.
The Panthers would cross over the try line in the fifth minute but Dylan Edwards was denied a try for clear obstruction.
It was the Cowboys however that opened the scoring with Marcus Jensen found down the left from a cut-out pass and crossing over. Kalyn Ponga couldn’t convert to give the Cowboys a 4-0 lead on eight minutes in.
Penrith responded strongly, forcing a drop-out and crossing over minutes later for their first try in the 12th minute. Wayde Egan burrowing under a slew of Cowboys defenders from dummy half to place the ball down under the posts. Nathan Cleary made no mistake with the conversion to put the Panthers in front 6-4.
It was to be another Panthers try in the 20th minute with Ratu Tuisese able to ground a Jarome Luai grubber down the left just inside the Cowboys in goal. Cleary’s conversion veers wide making it 10-4 Penrith.
Momentum swung the Cowboys way in the 23rd minute as they were handed three consecutive penalties but ultimately spilt the ball over the Panthers try-line.
A Tuisese knock-on minutes later handed the Cowboys another chance at the Panthers line and were only denied a try with Jenson ruled to have crossed the sideline down the left.
Tuisese made amends for his earlier mistake as he grabbed his second try of the night in the 33rd minute after again being able to ground a grubber deep down the left side. Dylan Edwards making a 50m break in the build-up to put the Cowboys defence on the back foot. Cleary couldn’t convert but Penrith led 14-4.
With two minutes left in the half, the Panthers forced a drop-out with a nicely weighted grubber and Tuisese wasn’t to be denied a first half hat-trick soon after. The winger able to beat his fellow winger and barge over the line down the left. Cleary’s conversion was waved away after the siren to give the Panther’s an 18-4 half-time advantage.
Half-time: 18-4 Panthers
Penrith returned from the break where they left off as they won a penalty and went within 10m of the try-line only for Reed Izzard to knock on.
The Panthers were to cross over in the 43rd minute though as Nathan Cleary grabbed himself a try after some nice passing from Egan and Edwards created space for Cleary. The try scorer then added another two points with a successful conversion as Penrith extended their lead to 24-4.
Penrith were then forced to defend and defend they did as they repelled multiple barge over attempts and forced a loose pass and turn over.
Edwards was then able to turn defence into attack in the 52nd minute as he made another 50m run following a Cowboys kick. The Panthers tried one pass too many though as they went looking for a try with a Braidon Burns pass finding touch rather than a looming Tuisese.
Five minutes later Edwards went on another effective run making 70 metres and giving the Panthers a chance to extend their advantage as Tyrone May forced his way over down the right. Cleary’s conversion again successful to make it 30-4 Penrith.
On 62 minutes Cowboys posted points of their own as Jordan Kentworthy swivelled his way over the line. Ponga converted to narrow the Panthers lead to 30-10.
There was nasty off the ball scuffle in the 63rd minute with Cowen Epere sent to the sin bin for his role in the incident.
It was to be a scoreless ten minutes however with the Cowboys unable to make the most of their numerical advantage.
With their full compliment back, the Panthers added another try in the 74th minute as Cleary dummied and darted through a gap 10m out and scored under the posts for his second of the game. Having set himself an easy kick, Cleary made no mistake with conversion as the Panthers raced away to a 36-10 lead.
That was to be the final points of the game as Penrith walked away easy winners.
Fulltime: 36-10 Panthers