The Panthers broke their club record winning streak, as they defeated the Warriors 18-12 in a historic ninth-straight victory.
The in-form Warriors put up a courageous fight, but the Panthers narrowly edged away as they set a new club record and continued their reign at the top of the NRL ladder.
The Panthers were far from their best, but another strong start got them home in the end. Penrith scored three tries in the first half to put the Warriors beyond their reach, and made it thirteen consecutive games without conceding a try in the opening 20 minutes.
Nathan Cleary played a starring role, as he guided the Panthers around the park with some superb kicking, while Dylan Edwards scored a try and made a number of important catches in his return from injury.
The Warriors defended wonderfully in the early stages, but the Panthers were rewarded for their patience as they took a 4-0 lead in the 9th minute.
Cleary sets up opener against the Warriors
Nathan Cleary showed his composure, as he waited for the perfect time to pounce after forcing three dropouts. The halfback spotted an overlap on the right edge and threw a magnificent long ball for Brent Naden to stroll over untouched.
The Panthers again went through the first quarter without conceding a point, although the Warriors came very close to scoring when Kodi Nikorima’s grubber struck the upright in the 22nd minute.
The Warriors threatened again when Lachlan Burr got the ball in open space, but Stephen Crichton made an intercept to put the Panthers on the counter. Api Koroisau did the rest, as he jumped out of dummy half, ducked under two tackles and slipped away from another to slide over next to the posts.
Koroisau ducks and weaves through the defence to score
Nathan Cleary’s conversion extended the Panthers lead to 10-0 after 27 minutes.
The Warriors did well to hang on after Penrith forced three consecutive dropouts, but the Panthers would not be denied when they entered the red zone next in the 37th minute.
Some excellent ball movement by Nathan Cleary and Stephen Crichton gave Josh Mansour space, and he kicked back inside for Dylan Edwards to pounce in his return from injury.
Mansour bends one back in for Edwards
Cleary added the extras to make it 16-0, but the Warriors pulled back a well-deserved try on the stroke of halftime.
Chanel Harris-Tavita kicked over the top, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck rose high to come up with the ball and score. Patrick Herbert’s conversion narrowed the margin to ten points.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 16 – WARRIORS 6
Each side had an attacking chance early in the second half, but neither could score. Tyrone May came particularly close when he latched onto Nathan Cleary’s face ball, but the Warriors wrapped him up short of the line.
The Warriors refused to be put to bed, and got themselves back into the contest with a try in the 56th minute.
Patrick Herbert dived over in the corner after a scrum set piece, and then nailed the sideline conversion to make it 16-12.
Nathan Cleary kicked a penalty goal from out wide to give the Panthers a six-point buffer in the 60th minute, but the Warriors still had all the momentum.
The Panthers were given a major scare when Peta Hiku darted down the short side with a man on his outside, but Stephen Crichton made a try-saving intercept to preserve the lead.
Viliame Kikau looked to have sealed the deal for Penrith when he charged over after some excellent lead-up work by Cleary, but the Panthers were pinged for an obstruction.
The Warriors put up an almighty fight in the closing stages, but Dylan Edwards made a courageous catch on the full-time siren to secure a record-breaking Panthers victory.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 18 – WARRIORS 12