The Panthers SG Ball and Harold Matthews sides kept their finals hopes alive with victories over Balmain Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The SG Ball Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday as they ran away 30-14 winners over the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
With their last two defeats coming in the dying moments of both games, and their lead cut to just four points with 20 minutes remaining on the clock, another nervy finish looked likely.
But a determined defensive effort, alongside two late tries, guaranteed the Panthers a much-deserved win.
It didn’t all go their way though, with Balmain skipping out to an early lead 8-0 courtesy of quick tries to Cooper Wood and Josh Rizk.
Penrith hit back five minutes later when Flynn Angles-Corke spilled a floating Brodie Henderson bomb, with Ryan Eisenhuth in support to pick up the scraps and score.
Right centre Zion Tauasa then showed great strength and speed to weave his way through defenders before powering over in the corner to hand the Panthers a two-point lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 10 Tigers 8
Penrith extended their lead minutes with two tries into the opening seven minutes of the second half. The first came off a lovely offload in the tackle from Blake Hill, which fooled the Balmain defence and created an overlap out wide with Jeremy Stowers diving over.
Zac Lipowicz then ran a clever line to charge over off a short ball from Henderson, pushing the buffer out to 10 points with neither conversion successful.
The Tigers responded soon after with a try to Jason Smyth but it would do little to stop a desperate Panthers side from posting another two tries to seal the win.
Sunia Turuva steamed onto a Sadee Sub Laban grubber in the 53rd minute before a length-of-the-field effort in the final minutes.
It started after hooker Taylan May skilfully scooped up the ball on the fly and linked with Conor Mason, who was eventually dragged down 30m out from the Tigers’ line.
The ball was then shifted left as Henderson went over out wide, rewarded for a strong individual performance.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 30 Tigers 14
The Harold Matthews Panthers consolidated their spot in the top eight with a 32-14 win over the Tigers.
Building leads has never been an issue this season, with Penrith yet to trail at half time from the seven games they have played so far.
And Saturday afternoon’s game was no different as the Panthers took a 20-4 lead into the break.
They opened the scoring in the fifth minute when halfback Jack Cole simply burrowed his way over out of dummy half.
Ryley Smith then burst through the middle off a lovely short ball from Matthew Rossetto before being dragged down 10 metres out from Balmain’s line. But with all the momentum, Penrith quickly capitalised on the opposition’s staggered defensive line to put Justice Sene over.
Smith then went over for a try of his own, this time surging through the attempted tackles of five Tigers players to spin over and score under the posts.
An error off a scrum fee close to the try line gifted Balmain prime field position and they made Penrith pay when Alexander Miltiadous scored to reduce the deficit to 12.
It was short-lived though, with the powerful charge from second rower Alfred Uelese seeing the Panthers regain ascendancy heading into the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 20 Tigers 4
They started the second half where they left off, scoring two more tries to push their lead out to 26.
The first came when Mason Teague busted through the middle before linking with a runaway John Sagaga who went over under the posts.
Sene then bagged his second of the afternoon when he strolled over off a short ball from five-eighth Jake Hay, with the looping pass out of dummy half from Nicholas Lenaz creating the numbers out wide.
Having already built a considerable lead, the result was never in doubt despite two late tries to Balmain.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 32 Tigers 14
The Tarsha Gale Panthers almost pulled off a miraculous comeback, falling short 32-22 against the Dragons in a thrilling contest at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Trailing 22-4 after 26 minutes, Penrith showed great resilience to fight back and come within four points before St. George Illawarra finished strong to secure the win.
Goal kicking also proved costly, with the Panthers managing to only convert one of their five tries.
Buoyed by last week’s 32-0 shutout of the Raiders, Penrith were first to score on Saturday when Reshaun Vaughan outpaced a couple of defenders on the right edge.
It was all the Dragons from there, with the home side running in the next three tries before the first break.
20-MINUTE BREAK: Panthers 4 Dragons 16
They extended their lead shortly after the game recommenced when Ema Rainima pounced out of dummy half and took the Panthers by surprise.
Penrith hit back soon after when quick hands saw winger Emelia Kaafi stretch out to score. Vaughan’s pace was again proving a handful for the Dragons defence as she split through the middle to run away and score her second.
And with all the momentum, the Panthers had another minutes later, this time Jessika Lealaiauloto finished off a break from Vaughan to reduce the buffer to just four points.
40-MINUTE BREAK: Panthers 18 Dragons 22
It was the closest they would get though, with the Dragons crossing over two more times to reassert their dominance. The first came when Taina Naividi stepped over in the corner before Mareva Swann proved too strong and fast as she went over off a scrum feed to push the lead out to 14.
Lavinia Taiseni scored a late consolation try but time ran out before the Panthers could salvage victory.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 22 Dragons 32