The Panthers bounced back from last week’s defeat in the Tarsha Gale Cup to take down Cronulla 28-14 at Shark Park on Saturday.
Both fullback Teagan Toa-Toa and interchange forward Christina Palu nabbed doubles as Penrith stormed home for their third win from four games to start the year.
After a scrappy start to the game, Penrith took advantage of a Cronulla error to cross over for the first try. Spotting an overlap on the right edge, halfback Justyce Cleverly shifted it long to Suresa-Moana Enese who took it up to the line before putting Toa-Toa over.
Cleverly was back at it again minutes later when she broke through the middle, sprinting away before looking back inside as Toa-Toa claimed her second try of the game.
Having had a hand in both of Penrith’s opening tries, Cleverly then put her stamp on the game in defence, coming up with a try-saving tackle on a runaway Jamie Chapman before shutting down Zali Fay on the following play.
The Panthers continued to defend their line with intent, holding Cronulla scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
20-minute break: Panthers 10 Sharks 0
Penrith couldn’t hold out Chapman any longer though as the speedy Sharks fullback split through the middle and raced away to score under the posts in the 22nd minute.
After turning away a persistent Cronulla outfit, the Panthers hit back in the 36th minute when Palu barged her way over.
And she quickly had a double as Penrith went back-to-back. It all started off a 40-metre run from Lavinia Taiseni, who was eventually pulled up just 20 metres out from the Cronulla line. Having constantly dragged defenders with her all game, Faliki Pohva popped a late offload to a waiting Palu who then dived over next to the posts.
The try was converted, seeing the Panthers take a 14-point lead into the second break.
40-minute break: Panthers 20 Sharks 6
Cronulla immediately responded as Ella Barker sliced through on the left edge to reduce the deficit to 10
With 12 minutes remaining, the Sharks set up a tense finish when a simple spread left created numbers and saw Alieesha Cohen score.
But the Panthers eventually sealed the win when Reshaun Vaughan steamed through the middle and against a staggered defensive line, the numbers were there as Emelia Kaafi strolled over.
Vaughan was then rewarded with a try of her own in the dying stages of the match as Penrith finished 28-14 winners.
Full-time: Panthers 28 Sharks 14