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Clinical Panthers punish Central Coast

The Panthers commenced their 2020 Harold Matthews Cup campaign with a clinical 28-4 victory over Central Coast Roosters at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.

After last weekend’s opener against Wests Tigers was washed out, the Panthers instead started their season in 30-degree heat.

However they handed the conditions as they were immediately forced to scramble in defence.

The Roosters looked certain to score when Noah Goodman stepped inside and surged over the line, only to have the ball stolen in a brilliant one-on-one tackle from Panthers fullback Liam Ison.

The play proved crucial as Penrith then earned a penalty and took full advantage to post the first try of the afternoon with slick passing seeing winger Ethan Hutchings cross in the corner.

The Panthers later extended their lead as skipper Isaiya Katoa held up the ball beautifully for Latrelle Leota, who ran a piercing line to burst through and score untouched.

A desperate bat down from Hutchings denied the Roosters a massive chance in the right corner but they could not stop Ethan Strange from forcing his way over moments later.

HALF-TIME: Panthers 10 Roosters 4

Centre Jesse McLean charged through a host of Roosters defenders to reach out and score the opening try of the second half for the Panthers.

Ison then continued his strong individual performance as he dived over after a turn of speed caught the Central Coast defenders off guard.

The Roosters shifted it down the left edge and went close to hitting back in the 50th minute but pressure from the Penrith defence saw them into touch.

Up front, Lleyten Tautua impressed with strong leg drive offering the Panthers plenty of go forward with an offload to match.

And the starting prop was later rewarded with a try as he surged through the Central Coast defence to score next to the posts.

Katoa nailed four of five conversions in the victory.

FULL-TIME: Panthers 28 Roosters 4