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Young Panthers put Pirates to the sword

The SG Ball Panthers returned to the winner’s circle with a 70-4 thumping of West Coast Pirates at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.

After being held to a draw against Manly last week, the Panthers bounced back emphatically, running 13 tries past the Pirates in a polished attacking performance.

The Panthers had to work for their points in the first half, before running away with it after the break as they piled on 50 unanswered points.

Second rower Lachlan Blackburn was among the Panthers’ top performers, putting his strength and skill on show as he scored one try and assisted two more.

The Pirates did manage to score a try through their fullback Quinton Fui, whose performance was a highlight for the visitors.

The Pirates did well to repel a few early attacking raids, but the Panthers could only be contained for so long as they went on to score three tries within 15 minutes.

Front rower Sunita Lotoaniu got the ball rolling, as he bulldozed his way over for the opening try after five minutes.

Lock forward Cruise Tweedie followed suit in the 12th minute, wrestling through a crowd of defenders to find the chalk.

Jesse Buchan bagged the third try, sliding over at the end of a well-rehearsed backline play, and Niwhai Puru landed the conversion from out wide to make it a 16-0 lead.

The Pirates applied plenty of pressure throughout the first half and pinched a try against the run of play in the 21st minute, when Quinton Fui chased down a deft grubber to make it 16-4.

The Panthers would reassert their authority before halftime. Buchan made it a double when he latched onto a wayward pass, sliced through and planted it down in the corner, handing the hosts a 16-point lead at the break.

HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 20 – PIRATES 4

Blackburn showed great skill to set up the first try of the second half. The second rower broke into open space with a dummy and a step, before finding Niwhai Puru unmarked on his inside. Puru added the conversion to give the Panthers a 26-4 lead after 41 minutes.

Fullback Donovan Boney oversaw the Panthers’ next two tries, scoring one and then assisting another in quick succession to make it 36-4.

Boney sliced through out wide and brushed off four defenders for his try, before putting on a big sidestep and then offloading terrifically for Braith Alexander to score.

The Panthers had a big overlap on the right edge in the 50th minute, but halfback Rylee Blackhall did it all himself as he took on the line to score.

Prop forward John Sagaga then got himself a rare double with two tries in five minutes. He cruised over for the first, before combining nicely with Blackburn and showing some fancy footwork for the second.

Zion Tauasa was next up for the Panthers, as he was the beneficiary of a slick link-up between hooker Trent Borthwick and Donovan Boney.

Kristian Li-Mai got in on the action in the 64th minute, diving over after a routine backline play.

Blackburn rounded out the scoring fest in the closing stages, putting both his strength and footwork on show to touch down.

Boney added the conversion from out wide to complete the comprehensive win for the Panthers.

FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 70 – PIRATES 4