The Intrust Super Premiership NSW Panthers fell at the hands of an unforgiving Warriors side at Pepper Stadium 32 points to 16. Despite a robust effort, Penrith were unable to match the fast-paced and hard-hitting New Zealand outfit.
Penrith immediately began to cause havoc deep inside Warriors territory. The side forced an early drop out and almost scored off a lethal Will Smith and Zac Dockar-Clay combination.
Penrith continued to throw pressure at the New Zealand side, eventually forcing a penalty that allowed Sam Clune to boot the ball into the steady hands of Josh Hall. Hall was able to cross but not convert, putting the Panthers ahead 4 – 0 in the 6th minute.
The Panthers pack were gifted a scrum and looked likely to score, but powerhouse Waqa Blake was denied 4 points by an obstruction call. The Warriors retaliated with a strong set that ended with a thoughtful punt. An unlucky bounce allowed Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to snatch up the ball and score in the 14th minute. An unsuccessful Lino conversion equalled the sides 4 – 4.
Penrith persisted in sniffing out the Warriors line, but in the 22nd minute Warriors second-rower Ligi Sao put the visitors ahead with a four pointer of his own. Mason Lino was able to nail the conversion to send the Warriors ahead 10-4.
Despite multiple and impressive line breaks by Sam Clune and Zach Dockar-Clay, the Panthers pack were unable to score and finished the first half trailing by six points.
Half Time: WARRIORS 10 - PENRITH 4
The Warriors worked a tough second half, with prop Toafofa Sipley crossing in the opening minutes. The accurate boot of Mason Lino moved the Warriors further ahead 16-4.
An increasingly desperate Panthers side saw Malakai Watne-Zelezniak badger and crawl over the line. A calm Josh Hall was then able to put the ball between the posts and close the gap to six.
The Warriors answered in the form of halfback Mason Lino. Lino impressively scored from his own grubber and successfully converted his try to put the Warriors up 22-10.
The relentless visitors continued to dominate play, with James Bell steamrolling over the line almost too easily to score in the 66th minute. Another accurate Lino conversion put his side ahead 26-10. Soon after, a sneaky try by Semisi Tyrell and successful conversion by Lino left the Warriors ahead by 22.
Determined to stay in the game, the Penrith pack frantically drove the ball left to right. Panthers were able to draw a penalty 10 metres out, and Will Smith snatched the opportunity to bust around the defence to cross in between the posts .A Josh Hall conversion closed the gap to 32-16.
The closing minutes saw both sides run chaotic sets but ultimately it the hard-hitting Warriors were able to snatch up another convincing win, consolidating their position towards the top of the ladder.
Full Time: WARRIORS 32 – PANTHERS 16