The Panthers have won the NRL Battle of the West trial against Parramatta Eels 18-6 at Pepper Stadium.
The early stages of the match developed in to an arm wrestle as both sides muscled up in defence and the forwards looked to impose themselves on the game.
Penrith would go the closest to scoring after 20 minutes when Moses Leota bumped off two defenders to break through the line before finding Tim Browne on the inside. The new recruit looked to have scored but was ruled to have been held up by a last ditch effort from the Eels defence.
Both teams would continue to find openings hard to come by courtesy of stubborn defence and ill-discipline with the ball.
A high penalty count led to the referee having a discussion with both captains. Soon after he would send Isaah Yeo to the sin bin with just 90 seconds remaining in the half but the Eels couldn’t break the deadlock as both teams went to the sheds at nil-all.
HALF TIME: Penrith Panthers 0-0 Parramatta Eels.
The wait for points in the match was over six minutes after the interval thanks to Te Maire Martin. Matt Moylan received the ball and attracted the attention of the defence before finding Martin’s straightening run as he raced through to score. Nathan Cleary added the extras to give Penrith a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers thought they had a second try ten minutes later when the ball was shifted left and Tyrone Peachey broke through but the referee called it back for a forward pass from Moylan.
However, the Eels would be the next to score through Bevan French just shy of the hour mark. Jamal Fogarty held the ball up on the line and laid it off for the fleet-footed fullback to run in and level the scores thanks to Clint Gutherson’s conversion.
Penrith regained the lead after 66 minutes thanks to a strong run from Leilani Latu. Bryce Cartwright drew in the defence before finding Latu who broke free of two defenders to plant it over next to the posts. Cleary’s conversion would push the lead out to six points.
A breakaway on halfway had the Panthers on the front foot thanks to some sharp hands from Martin and Moylan before Cleary was dragged down just shy of the line.
The very next play, Martin found an unmarked Dean Whare with a precise kick to score in the corner. Cleary’s sideline conversion was successful as Penrith raced away to an 18-6 lead with ten minutes remaining.
The Panthers would hold out a determined Parramatta outfit for the remaining moments in the match to run out 12 point winners in their final trial match before the season proper.
FULLTIME: Penrith Panthers 18 - Parramatta Eels 6