The NYC Panthers have been handed a 40-10 wake-up call ahead of the finals as the Dragons ran rampant at Pepper Stadium on Sunday.
The first attacking opportunity fell to the visitors, leading to the opening points in the 5th minute through Steven Marsters. Tristan Sailor’s high kick was fielded by the Dragons and eventually found Marsters unmarked out wide to hand his side an early 4-0 lead.
Sailor would then orchestrate a quick-fire double midway through the half to push his side out to a 16-0 lead. He would score the first after a fine solo effort, before stabbing in goal for the onrushing Jayden Morgan to dive on ahead of a retreating defence. Zac Lomax converted both attempts.
The Panthers eventually got going soon after when Caleb Aekins fed winger Daine Laurie to dive over in the corner, before Dean Blore converted from the sideline, to bring the score back to 16-6.
However, the Dragons would respond on the half-hour mark through Marsters’ second of the game to restore their 16-point advantage. The winger was again found in space to expose the Panthers right edge defence, which Lomax would convert, to make it 22-6.
The visitors would run in for their fifth on the stroke of half-time when TJ Uele crashed over from close range to extend their lead to 28-6, following Lomax’s conversion.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 6 – 28 St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons restarted the brighter and pushed out even further on the scoreboard when Jackson Willis kicked through for himself to score on the hour mark. Lomax landed another conversion to make it 34-6.
Victory was assured with fifteen minutes left on the clock when Lomax kicked his sixth goal of the afternoon courtesy of a penalty after Panthers captain Wayde Egan was pinged for a late tackle.
Their lead grew even further when Marsters celebrated his hat-trick ten minutes from time after wrestling past two defenders to give his side a 40-6 lead.
Laurie managed to score his second with another fine effort in the corner, but it would provide little consolation as the Dragons ran away with an emphatic 40-10 victory that saw them draw level on the competition ladder and hand the Panthers a wake-up call before the finals.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 10 – 40 St George Illawarra Dragons