The NSW Cup Panthers have continued their winning ways with a 32-16 victory over Newtown Jets at Henson Park on Saturday.
The Jets were boosted by the inclusion of over 400 games of NRL experience in the form of Chad Townsend and Josh Dugan, joining big-name wingers Sione Katoa and Nene Macdonald.
However the young Panthers again proved their mettle, with winger Ratu Nadurutalo bagging a hat-trick and hooker Brendan Hands grabbing an early double.
The away side dominated field position early on and they capitalised after some strong defence caused the Jets to lose possession 40 metres out from their own line.
Hands was soon the beneficiary, pouncing on a pin-point grubber from Kurt Falls. The halfback added the extras from close range to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead after nine minutes.
The Panthers were helped upfield soon after as Eddie Blacker was taken out of play trying to retrieve a loose ball. On the following set, Hands bagged himself a double in just 15 minutes, scooting out of dummy half on the back of a charge from Spencer Leniu. Falls added the extras from out wide to take the lead out to 12.
Newtown began to build some pressure as the game passed the 20 minute mark and it didn’t take long for Franklin Pele to score the Jets opening try. The big man barged his way through the Panthers right edge defence. The score remained 12-4 as the conversion attempt was waved away.
Fullback Brent Naden got his hands on the ball inside the Jets red zone and fired a great ball to an unmarked Luke Nadurutalo, with the winger strolling around to give Falls an easier conversion attempt. The conversion saw the Panthers take a handy 14-point lead into the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 18 – Jets 4
The Jets were the first to trouble the scorers in the second half as Nene Macdonald steamed onto a harbour bridge pass from Chad Townsend and launched his way through the air millimetres inside the left touchline.
The Panthers regained their double-digit lead when Nadurutalo used his power and reach to evade the attempted tackle of Mawene Hiroti. Falls couldn’t slot the sideline conversion.
The Fijian wrecking ball soon crossed for a hat-trick to all but put the game out of reach for the Jets.
Leniu sealed the victory when he crossed for a much-deserved try with just eight minutes remaining. Falls added the extras to give the ladder leaders a 22-point lead.
Luke Metcalf crossed for a consolation four-pointer in the final seconds of the match which was converted by Townsend however the ladder-leaders still left Henson Park with a comprehensive 16-point victory.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 32 – Jets 16