Josh Hall snatched a double to spearhead the ISP Panthers to a 34-22 victory over North Sydney Bears on Saturday.
Late inclusions to both sides saw NRL guns Tyrone Peachy and George Burgess shake things up at North Sydney Oval. Steve Georgallis’ 17-man squad displayed impressive defensive grit to shut down a Bears comeback in the second half.
Penrith launched their attack in the opening minutes and drew two penalties mere metres out from the line. Zach Dockar-Clay directed play from left to right until he found powerhouse Viliame Kikau, who steamrolled over in the 4th minute. Josh Hall successfully converted to put the Panthers ahead 6 – 0.
The boys from Penrith wasted no time setting up Kikau to once again machine deep within the Bears defence and pop a late ball that sent Tyrone Peachey over in the 7th minute. Hall slotted his second conversion and propelled Panthers to a 12 – 0 lead.
Dominating field possession, the Panthers continued to sniff out the white line. Unleashing an attack down the middle, Andrew Hefferman saw numbers out left and cast the ball to Hall who touched down in the 16th minute. Hall converted his own try to push Penrith out front 16 – 0.
Heffernan followed suit and cleaned up a Peachey grubber in the 23rd minute to crash over. Hall slotted the conversion to give his side a 22 – 0 lead.
Just when it seemed Penrith had found their groove, George Burgess hit the field to inspire a series of sharp North Sydney plays. Burgess sent the ball to Latrell Robinson who tricked Panthers defence with an offload that put Dane Nielsen over the line in the 30th minute. Eli Levido sent the ball through the posts and put the Bears on the board 22 – 6.
North Sydney continued to infiltrate Panthers territory with Burgess barging his way inches from the line. Brad Deitz made no hesitation in scooting out from dummy half to cross in the 34th minute. Another successful Levido conversion allowed to bears to trail 22 – 12.
Captain Dockar-Clay had the final say of the half with a 30m line break up the middle that sent Malakai Watene-Zelezniak over in the 39th minute. Hall converted to secure a 28 – 12 lead for Penrith as the siren sounded.
HALFTIME - Panthers 28 – 12
The second half saw the Panthers defensive line under fire as North Sydney dominated possession and field position. Penrith held their own in the 46th minute to prevent a Damien Cook rampage up the left.
Graced with a penalty beside the posts, the Bears fired a wide play in the 47th minute that saw Nielson score a double. As Levido’s conversion was waved away, the Panthers grasped onto a 28 – 16 lead.
Play travelled end to end, and utter chaos down the middle eventually landed North Sydney with a scrum too close for comfort. Levido spotted holes out wide and sent the ball to Robinson who crossed in the 64th minute. Levido successfully converted and the Bears trailed 28 – 22.
The Bears continued to test Penrith’s defence, winning consecutive sets in hopes of sniffing out another 4-pointer. Josh Hall put an end to a nail-biting 10 minutes, snatching up a loose ball to sprint 90 metres to dive over in the 76th minute. Hall successfully converted his own try to push Penrith comfortably ahead and win 34 – 22.
FULLTIME - Panthers 34 - 22