The Canterbury Cup Panthers got a defensive workout as they were defeated 18-14 by Western Suburbs Magpies in a trial match at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Despite the result, Panthers coach Peter Wallace will take plenty of positives from his side’s performance, as they displayed considerable resilience in defence.
The first half was a see-sawing affair, with the two sides going blow-for-blow for 30 minutes, before the Panthers pulled ahead at the interval.
Western Suburbs were first to score as five-eighth Jock Madden burrowed over in the 5th minute for an early 4-0 lead.
The Panthers quickly responded as Western Suburbs’ sliding defence stood no chance against hard-running centre Maliko Filino, who charged over to equalise.
Zac Cini nudged the Magpies back ahead in the 26th minute, as he picked up the scraps of a dropped bomb to make it 8-4.
The Panthers returned serve once again, as hooker Tyson Smoothy muscled his way over the line from dummy half in the 32nd minute.
Kurt Falls’ conversion pushed the Panthers ahead 10-8 - a lead they quickly built upon.
Fullback Charlie Staines zipped away for the Panthers’ third try after he latched onto a beautiful inside ball by Jarrod Brackenhofer, stretching Penrith’s advantage to six points at the break.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 14 – MAGPIES 8
The Magpies had a handful of sets on the Panthers line to begin the second half but Jarrod Brackenhofer retrieved two dangerous grubbers to maintain Penrith’s lead.
However Western Suburbs continued to apply pressure and eventually cracked the line when a cross-field bomb was batted down for winger William Kei to score.
Jock Madden’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the Panthers remained ahead by 14-12 with 24 minutes remaining.
The Magpies dominated proceedings thereafter, with the Panthers’ lead hanging by a thread. Matheson Johns had two opportunities in quick succession but the Panthers’ goal line defence held firm.
The pressure eventually took its toll as the Magpies snatched the lead with six minutes remaining.
After the Panthers let a bomb hit the deck, Regan Hughes picked up the scraps to score, and the conversion by Brendan O’Hagan pushed Western Suburbs ahead 18-14.
The Magpies kept Penrith pinned down their own end in the closing stages, denying them any opportunity to cause late drama, as it ended in a four-point win for Western Suburbs.
FULL-TIME: MAGPIES 18 – PANTHERS 14