The Panthers piled on the points in the second half for a hard-fought 42-24 victory over Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
It took just two minutes for the boys from Penrith to open the scoring couresy of powerhouse Moses Leota, who barged his way through multiple Tigers defenders. A successful Josh Hall conversion put Panthers in front 6-0.
A perfectly weighted grubber from Sione Katoa was snatched up by Tyrone May who crossed over in the 17th minute. Hall put his side further ahead with another accurate conversion - 12-0.
The Tigers responded and just when it looked like Penrith were about to squeeze the ball out of danger, Jack Littlejohn sent a cross-field bomb in the direction of Jaden Wheelhouse. The winger grabbed the ball and rolled over the line for a 20th-minute try. Jordan Rankin put the ball between the posts to make it 12-6.
Wests Tigers continued to infiltrate Penrith territory and centre Chance Peni was able to dodge defenders and set Wheelhouse up to score his second try in the 26th minute. An unsuccessful Rankin conversion left Panthers just ahead 12-10.
The home side were in again in the 33rd minute as Heleta was snuck over. An accurate Rankin conversion put Wests Tigers in front 16-12.
However Panthers hit back just before the break as Katoa scooted from dummy half and offloaded for Brendan Attwood to score. The reliable boot of Hall edged Penrith ahead at halftime.
HALFTIME: PEN 18 WT 16
A chaotic kick and chase saw Hall snatch up the ball to cross in the 46th minute. His successful conversion put the Panthers up 24-16.
Viliame Kikau was a consistent powerhouse in defence. He stopped Wheelhouse in his tracks with a formidable tackle and the Wests Tigers winger was stretchered off in the 52nd minute.
Three minutes later, Katoa found Leota to barge his way over for his second try. Hall was able to convert, increasing Penrith’s lead to 30-16.
Wests Tigers responded in the 58th minute with a thoughtful grubber to Esan Marsters who was able to swiftly cross.
However Will Smith showed some of his individual brilliance to take a Zach Dockar-Clay offload and score out wide in the 63rd minute. Another accurate conversion curtesy of Hall placed Penrith further ahead, 36-20.
Hall brilliantly secured a Wests Tigers punt in the 68th minute to sprint half the field and offload to George Jennings who slammed the ball over the line.
The final try of the game went to the Wests Tigers but it was game over as the conversion attempt was waved away.
FULLTIME PEN 42 WT 24