Panthers punish toothless Tigers
The Panthers held the Wests Tigers try-less in a 16-2 win over their western Sydney rivals at Panthers Stadium on Thursday night.
After going down a man and being put under pressure early in the first half, the Panthers got over the line in front of a home crowd of 15,081 courtesy of tries by Tyrone Peachey and Tyrone Phillips, and James Maloney's four goals.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the 7th minute when Esan Marsters booted a penalty goal.
A half-break by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak allowed the Panthers to return serve in the 19th minute as Maloney kicked a penalty goal to make it 2-all.
After referee Ben Cummins gave an official warning, the Panthers were reduced to twelve men in the 22nd minute as Trent Merrin was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements.
Despite being down a man, the Panthers scored the first try in the 24th minute when Nathan Cleary marked his return from injury with a try assist for Peachey, who pounced on the halfback's grubber in behind the Tigers defence. Maloney converted to stretch the Panthers lead to 8-2.
After a Dean Whare line break, the Panthers extended their margin in spectacular fashion when Maloney floated the football over the top to Phillips, who took to the air to touch down in the corner. Maloney failed to convert and the score remained 12-2 after 35 minutes.
The Tigers had a chance late in the half to narrow the margin, but were unable to produce points after a handling error.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 12-2 TIGERS
Maloney looked to send Phillips over again in the 47th minute, but the winger was wrapped up by the Tigers scrambling defence.
The Panthers looked to have had their third try in the 51st minute when Viliame Kikau latched onto a Cleary short ball and crashed over, but the Bunker spotted an obstruction.
Maloney pushed the Panthers out to a 14-2 lead in the 54th minute with a penalty goal after the Tigers were caught offside.
A blistering cutout pass by Sione Katoa sent Christian Crichton diving over in the corner in the 57th minute, however the winger was unable to ground the ball cleanly under the pressure of the Tigers scrambling defence.
Alex Twal was sent to the sin bin in the 59th minute after the Tigers gave away several penalties on the goal line, and Maloney slotted a penalty goal to put the Panthers ahead by 14 points.
A desperate offload by Watene-Zelezniak gave Phillips a chance in the corner in the 62nd minute, but the winger was ushered into touch by David Nofoaluma before he could ground the football.
Maloney sent a deft grubber in behind the Tigers defence with Watene-Zelezniak and Peachey racing through in the 66th minute, but Nofoaluma beat them to football to shut down the situation.
The Tigers pushed for a late try, but the Panthers defence held firm and Nofoaluma dragged into touch by Peachey and Phillips in the 78th minute.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 16-2 TIGERS