The SG Ball Panthers opened their 2018 season in emphatic fashion, defeating Balmain Tigers 40-8 at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
After trailing 8-6 at halftime, the Panthers produced 34 unanswered points in the second stanza with fullback Charlie Staines bagging an impressive hat-trick and hooker Maurice Trindall snaring a double.
The Panthers opened the game in spectacular fashion as winger Logan Cohen athletically crossed in the corner at the end of a backline shift. Stephen Crichton’s sideline conversion handed Penrith a 6-0 lead within five minutes of kick-off.
Moments later an impressive fifty-metre charge and offload from backrower Shawn Blore allowed Crichton to break away for the Panthers. However Balmain survived unscathed as the centre was desperately mowed down and forced into making an error.
Having avoided conceding back-to-back tries, the Tigers surged upfield and scored through Uellington Seve. The barnstorming second rower latched onto a short ball and crashed over next to the posts. The simple conversion from Tane Edmed locked the game up 6-6 after 12 minutes.
On the back of Seve’s try, Balmain continued to dominate possession and poor ball control by the Panthers would hand the Tigers a number of attacking opportunities. However the Tigers were unable to convert their possession into points as Penrith’s goal line defence held firm.
In a compliment to Penrith’s scramble, Balmain settled for a penalty goal in the closing minutes of the first half, edging the Tigers ahead 8-6 at the break.
HALFTIME - PANTHERS 6-8 BALMAIN
Balmain’s lead quickly disappeared on the other side of half time. In the 37th minute Panthers centre Tom Farr found himself on the end of a quick exchange of hands down the left edge and scored. Crichton missed the attempted conversion but Panthers led 10-8.
Following an error by Tigers captain Ethan Mokoia, the Panthers extended their advantaged in the 45th minute following a brilliant passage of play by Trindall. The hooker first sent Farr into space down the left wing and the next play darted over the line from dummy half to score. Crichton added the extras and the scoreboard read 16-8.
Balmain's Fontene Papalii crossed the tryline in the 50th minute but the rampaging back rower was brilliantly held up and the Tigers came away empty-handed.
Penrith was rewarded for their brilliant defensive efforts with a try to Staines five minutes later. The fullback was put into space with a swift pass from Blore. Crichton’s conversion put the Panthers ahead 22-8 with 12 minutes left in the contest.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 62nd minute as halfback Hayden Bonnano sent Staines over the tryline with a deft inside ball on the fifth tackle. Crichton added two points and Penrith led 28-8.
Staines sealed his hat-trick moments later after fooling Balmain’s faltering defence with a linebreak and sidestep to touch down under the posts. Crichton slotted his fifth goal of the afternoon as Penrith raced away to a twenty-six point lead with just over a minute to play.
There was just enough time left for Trindall to ice the victory, burrowing over from close range following a Blore linebreak. Crichton added the extras to see the Panthers clock up forty points and get the season started in real style.
FULLTIME - PANTHERS 40-8 BALMAIN