The Panthers Canterbury Cup side paid full toll for poor discipline in a 32-12 loss to Western Suburbs Magpies at Leichardt Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers were on the wrong end of a 9-5 penalty count, making it a relatively simple win for a Magpies outfit featuring over 500 games of NRL experience in the form of David Nofoaluma, Elijah Taylor, Chris McQueen and Robbie Rochow.
At one stage the penalty count was 7-0 against the Panthers, forcing them to spend most of the first half defending their own line.
Jarome Luai, backing up from NRL duties, was a shining light for the Panthers, his kicking and running game causing plenty of problems for the Magpies throughout the contest.
The Panthers got off to a dream start with fullback Caleb Aekins scoring in the 2nd minute off a brilliant offload from Jed Cartwright.
However the Magpies crossed for the next three tries off the back of seven penalties and four errors by the Panthers.
After an extended period in the red zone, Sam McIntyre sliced through in the 14th minute for the first try. Shortly after, Kane Bradley went over for the second after consecutive Panthers penalties, putting the hosts ahead 10-4.
Luai’s soaring kick in the 25th minute finally got the Panthers out of their own end, but Liam Coleman’s apparently dangerous tackle, which landed him on report, undid the good work.
The Magpies again punished the Panthers as Tyson Gamble dashed away and extended the margin to 10 points.
Had three tries not been punishment enough for their poor discipline, the Panthers then found themselves down a man in the 33rd minute when Brent Naden was sin binned.
Down to 12 men, it seemed certain that the Magpies would pile on a fourth try before the break. Instead, the Panthers pulled one back against the run of play.
The Panthers marched upfield, where Luai put one of his signature grubbers to the corner, and Brian Too acrobatically planted it down. This reduced the margin to just eight points despite all of the Magpies’ dominance.
HALF-TIME: MAGPIES 14 – PANTHERS 8
The Magpies still had a one-man advantage to begin the second half, and Kauri Aupouri capitalised by dancing through the undermanned right edge. Paul Momirovski converted, giving the hosts a 12-point lead.
The Panthers saw two chances go begging in quick succession around the 55-minute mark, as both Ratu Tuisese and Coleman failed to apply the finishing touch to clever kicks from Aekins and Luai, respectively.
The Magpies countered from a 20-metre tap in the 58th minute, and Momirovski broke into the backfield. However, Too and Naden chased him down to keep the Panthers in the contest.
There was no denying Dylan Smith though, the fullback racing away after a great offload from David Nofoaluma. The conversion put the result beyond reasonable doubt at 26-8 with 15 minutes left.
Frustration taking its toll, the Panthers conceded a penalty after the kick-off. The Magpies proceeded to kill off the game when Gamble’s floating kick bounced awfully for Penrith but perfectly for Aupouri, stretching the gap to 24 points.
A great pass from Kaide Ellis sent Ratu Tuisese over in the 75th minute, but it was mere consolation as the Panthers suffered a 20-point loss.
FULL-TIME: MAGPIES 32 – PANTHERS 12