The Harold Matts Panthers have returned to winning ways in comprehensive fashion, thumping the Central Coast Roosters 46-10 at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Saturday.
Following a tightly-contested first half, the Panthers produced a second half clinic, scoring five unanswered tries to claim a convincing win and remain equal first on the Harold Matthews competition table.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the 3rd minute when fullback Ashley Cosgrove and centre Jamie Davison linked up for the latter to dive over in the corner at the end of a backline movement. Puru’s sideline conversion attempt crept in, taking the Panthers out to an early 6-0 lead.
Puru extended the Panthers lead in the 6th minute, chasing down a grubber in behind the Roosters defence to streak away and score. His goal attempt was waved away as the score remained 10-0.
The Roosters narrowed the margin to six points just minutes later however, when second rower Bowen Slee powered his way over the try line. An unsuccessful conversion attempt saw the Panthers hold onto a 10-6 lead after 10 minutes.
The early try-scoring feast continued in the 14th minute when lock Izack Tago dashed away to touch down, and Puru added the extras as the Panthers stretched the score to 16-6.
Consecutive penalties allowed the Roosters to march into the Panthers red zone, and Central Coast took advantage of the field position as Slee crossed for his second. Centre Josh Martin slotted the conversion, closing the gap to six points after 21 minutes.
A Panthers error gifted the Roosters another opportunity on the opposition try line in the 25th minute, but they failed to capitalise as Penrith’s rushing defence forced an error.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 16-10 CENTRAL COAST ROOSTERS
The Panthers looked to have extended their lead in the 34th minute when Tago latched onto a bomb by halfback Braith Alexander to cross the line, but the Roosters were given a reprieve as the lock was ruled to be offside.
Tago wasn’t denied on his next opportunity however, grabbing a bullet pass from hooker Trent Borthwick to crash over and score his second try. Puru slotted the goal to extend the Panthers lead to 22-10 after 37 minutes.
The Panthers took full advantage of an error by the Roosters deep inside own half in the 42nd minute, with prop Zac Lipowicz scoring in near-identical fashion to Tago’s effort just minutes earlier. Puru landed his fourth goal of the match to put the Panthers ahead by 18 points.
The two sides exchanged opportunities to put another try on the scoreboard inside the next five minutes, however poor ball handling saw both come up empty-handed, as the score remained 28-10.
Puru took matters into his own hands to extinguish the Roosters hopes of a miraculous comeback, fooling the Central Coast goal-line defence with a dummy and a step to cross the stripe. The five-eighth added the extras to put the Panthers ahead 34-10 with five minutes remaining.
A late Cosgrove double iced the win for the Panthers, with the fullback taking an intercept to run the length of the field for his first try, before applying the finishing touch to a dazzling piece of play by Puru for his second. Puru converted both tries as the Panthers ran away with a 36-point win.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 46-10 CENTRAL COAST ROOSTERS