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Panthers punish the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium

The Penrith Panthers have cruised to a 34-16 win over the St. George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.  

Nathan Cleary starred in his return game with 449 kick metres while directing the Panthers around with purpose in attack.  

Meanwhile, Dylan Edwards was reliable as always at the back and also proved a constant threat as he scored two, ran for over 200 metres and busted eight tackles. 

Cleary made an early impact in defence, coming up with a try-saving tackle on Billy Burns before backing it up the next play to stop Andrew McCullough.  

The entire Panthers team lifted without the ball to deny the Dragons despite the hosts enjoying 21 tackles inside the red zone in the opening 15 minutes.  

Defence quickly turned to attack shortly after as Brent Naden intercepted a Corey Norman pass and raced away to score the opening try.

Naden opens the scoring with runaway four-pointer

Cleary slotted the goal to make it an early 6-0 lead for the Panthers. 

Penrith though continued to make errors coming out of its own half to gift the Dragons more opportunities and it eventually led to points as Zac Lomax put Mikaele Ravalawa over. 

Lomax then converted the try to level the scores at 6-all. 

It was only a matter of holding onto the ball for the Panthers before the points started to come.  

A wayward Norman pass invited Penrith into attacking territory and once more the Panthers pounced with Naden scoring again.

Naden dives over for his second try of the game

Cleary hit the posts with his attempted conversion. 

Dylan Edwards was the next to strike as he beat a few Dragons defenders before stretching out to plant the ball on the line.

Edwards scores the Panthers third four-pointer

Cleary piloted the kick through this time around to extend the lead to 10. 

Naden almost had his third of the half, denied only by strong contact from Ravalawa. 

HALF-TIME: Panthers 16 - Dragons 6 

Both teams traded sets in a relatively uneventful opening 10 minutes to the second half before Matt Burton broke the game open.  

It came after Jarome Luai broke an attempted tackle from Ravalawa and quickly shifted it to Burton who stepped inside and raced away with Edwards backing up in support to score his second.  

Cleary slotted the extras to make it 22-6.

Scintillating attack leads to Edwards' second four-pointer

Burton then scored one of his own after Cleary forced an error from Jack Bird, with Luai dumping it off to the Panthers centre who backed himself to take the Dragons on.

Panthers pounce after Cleary forced an error

Cleary once again stepped up to add the two points. 

The Dragons eventually hit back after Tom Amone took the line on and linked with Jack Bird on the inside.  

Lomax converted the try to reduce the deficit to 16. 

Naden once more went agonisingly close to his third, this time with a forward pass ruled from Burton in the lead-up as Lomax rushed in. 

The pressure led to points soon enough though with Cleary forcing a dropout and then putting Paul Momirovski through.

Momirovski gets on the outside of Beale

Cleary then curled the ball through the posts to make it 34-12 and was given an early rest.  

Amone once again provided a late highlight for the Dragons as he stepped through to score having set up their earlier try.  

FULL-TIME: Panthers 34 - Dragons 16 

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.