The Panthers have outlasted Mounties 18-12 in a tightly contested affair at Pepper Stadium in trying conditions.
Heavy rain pre-game ensured errors were at a high but the Panthers maintained their composure to defeat the third-placed Mounties and remain within touching distance of the top four.
ISP debutant Wayde Egan had a hand in two tries and Jed Cartwright made a successful return from injury to lead the Panthers to victory.
The Panthers were dealt an early blow in the opening minute when Moses Leota stayed down in a tackle, which would force him from the field momentarily.
The home side would regroup to strike first on the scoreboard in the 13th minute through Michael Oldfield. Makeshift fullback Peta Hiku created an overlap on the right edge before putting his centre through a gap close to the line. Darren Nicholls slotted the conversion from close to the sideline to make it 6-0.
Mounties struck back midway through the first half through Dominic Reardon. An inside ball from Lachlan Croker exposed a hole in the Panthers defence for his fullback to race through and allow the visitors to level the scores following Isaac John’s successful conversion.
The Panthers regained the lead on the half hour mark after a determined run to the line from Nicholls. ISP first-timer Wayde Egan shifted the ball right to Nicholls at first receiver to charge at the line and poke through, before converting his own try to hand his side a 12-6 lead.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 12 – 6 Mounties
An error in the set following the restart handed the Panthers an opportunity to add to their lead, which they would capitalise on thanks to another Egan try assist. The hooker managed to free his arm to offload to Jed Cartwright in open space to score next to the uprights. Nicholls knocked the simple conversion over, extending the lead to 18-6.
Consecutive penalties to Mounties carried them up field, leading to their second try through Dave Taylor in the 55th minute. The rampaging forward charged on to a short ball from Croker and couldn’t be stopped close to the line. John slotted the conversion to bring his back to within a converted try but they would ultimately fall short against a determined Panthers side that held on for a vital two competition points.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 18 – 12 Mounties