The Panthers pulled off an impressive 44-16 demolition job against Sydney Roosters in the opening round of the Harold Matthews Cup competition at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Hooker Ryley Smith starred for Penrith, with his blistering speed a highlight of the afternoon as the starting hooker scored two tries.
Interchange forward Alfred Uelese also impressed, nabbing a hattrick of tries off the back of a lethal combination of pace and power.
Smith brought the Panthers faithful to their feet early in the sixth minute when he poked out of dummy-half and stepped through several defenders before slicing under the posts. Jake Hay converted the try to give Penrith a 6-0 lead.
Smith was at it again moments later when he broke through the middle, outpacing a number of Roosters before being pulled up 30 metres short of the line. The ball was then shifted left, with Jecii Pritchard stepping back inside and powering his way over for Penrith’s second of the afternoon.
The Panthers were just as impressive in defence, forcing Jack Dempsey into touch 10 out from Sydney’s. And after a strong charge from John Sagaga, Smith went short to Uelese who crashed over.
They extended their lead to 20 in the 23rd minute off a perfectly executed left-edge raid which saw Hay play it short to Justice Sene, who streamed downfield and linked with Caleb Coroneos.
Penrith ran in another try in the following set when Uelese surging over off a crash ball for his second of the afternoon.
And with just a minute remaining in the first half, Coroneos stormed down the left edge off a lovely cut out-pass and found Hay in support to extend Penrith’s lead to 32 at the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 32 Roosters 0
The Roosters fought back early in the second half, with Louis Grossemy forcing his way over in the 10th minute.
It was short-lived though, with Uelese powering his way over three defenders to score his third try of the game.
While Uelese was excellent, he had to share the spotlight with Smith, who showed great strength to stretch out and score his second try in the 50th minute.
A mistake on the first play off the restart handed possession back to the Roosters and they quickly capitalised as Aaron Dimovitch sliced over out wide before Brent Hawkins scored on the siren.
It was too late for the visitors though as the Panthers claimed a big win to start their 2019 season.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 44 Roosters 16