Crichton hat-trick helps Panthers bury Bears

The Canterbury Cup Panthers have returned to top spot on the ladder with a 32-0 shutout of the North Sydney Bears at Panthers Stadium on Sunday.

Stephen Crichton’s athleticism was on full display with the winger bagging a hat-trick of tries.

Sione Katoa provided consistent service from dummy half for the entire eighty minutes and popped a late offload to put Jed Cartwright over for a try.

Daine Laurie was also a constant threat at the back with his flashy footwork and pace.

It was a team effort though as Penrith worked together to hold the Bears scoreless.

That was despite an early setback, which saw Sam McKendy sent to the sin-bin for interference on a Bears chaser close to the try line.

They defended bravely though, Laurie coming up with a big tackle on a runaway Max Bailey to hold North Sydney scoreless without McKendry.

Both sides then settled into the grind before Spencer Leniu broke the game open in the 29th minute, bursting through the middle and racing away to score the opening try of the afternoon.

Kurt Falls slotted the goal to extend the lead out to six.

Quick hands from Laurie to Malakai Watene-Zelezniak saw the winger force a dropout and Penrith capitalised.

A cut-out ball from Falls put Jed Cartwright in space and he sent Crichton diving over in the corner.

Falls couldn’t convert the try though, leaving the score at 10-0.

HALF-TIME: Panthers 10 Bears 0

The Panthers made a perfect start to the half after a lovely long ball over the top from Laurie saw Crichton slice over out wide for his second of the game.

Falls was perfect from the sideline to extend the buffer to 16.

Caleb Aekins then did it all himself, stepping past two Bears defenders before muscling his way through another three all the way to the try line.

The conversion sailed through once more from Falls.

North Sydney later found themselves down to 12 men when Bailey was sent to the bin for backchat.

Both sides were guilty of poor handling late with neither able to build much pressure.

But Penrith had the final say with Crichton going over for his third of the afternoon before Katoa spun around to link with Cartwright who ran away to score.

FULL-TIME: Panthers 32 Bears 0