The Panthers blew out the cobwebs in a resounding 32-4 trial win over Wests Tigers at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
It was a night that the Panthers will take plenty of positives from, as they showed almost no sign of pre-season rust during a second-half shutout.
After a close first half, the Panthers turned entertainers in the second stanza with five unanswered tries to run away with an impressive win. Brent Naden was at the centre of it all, scoring two tries, assisting one, and playing a key role in another.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Wests Tigers
Naden kicked things off in the 12th minute with the opening try, as he dived over in the corner after some nice lead-up work by Moses Leota and Jarome Luai.
The Tigers responded in the 22nd minute, as a well-rehearsed backline play saw winger Reece Hoffman score an equalising try.
Tensions boiled over between Jarome Luai and Matheson Johns in the 30th minute, resulting in the pair being sin binned.
Daine Laurie forced a drop out to put the Panthers on the attack in the 34th minute, but a handling error soon after saw the chance amount to nought.
On the brink of halftime Tigers playmaker Josh Reynolds put up a threatening cross-field bomb, but Brian To’o rose above the pack to take possession and keep the scores level.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 4 – WESTS TIGERS 4
The second half was played in rainy conditions, after the heavens opened during the break. The Tigers spilled the greasy ball not long into the second stanza, and the Panthers made them pay.
Tyrone May caught Josh Reynolds off his line, and put on a big sidestep to slip through and plant it down in the 44th minute. Jed Cartwright then kicked the conversion to put the Panthers ahead 10-4.
OAK Plus Post Game: Isaah Yeo
There was no sign of pre-season rust as the Panthers scored their third try in the 50th minute, in what was a dazzling long-range effort.
Brent Naden set sail down the left edge before turning it in to Billy Burns, who stepped inward before linking with Jack Hetherington, and the prop to raced away to the try line.
Another successful Cartwright conversion opened up a 12-point lead.
Stephen Crichton, playing fullback, got in on the action in the 60th minute. The Panthers attacked the short side, and a sharp change of direction saw Crichton brush off four defenders to score.
Cartwright’s third conversion took it to 22-4.
That margin stretched to 28-4 in the 72nd minute when Matt Burton cleverly sent Naden tiptoeing down the sideline. J’maine Hopgood pushed up in support to apply the finishing touch. From the sideline, Cartwright kicked his fourth-straight conversion.
Fittingly, it was Naden who scored the try to put the icing on the cake for Penrith. With the last play of the game, the centre scooped up a loose ball and planted it down in the corner, making it a 28-point win for the Panthers.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 32 – WESTS TIGERS 4