Penrith Panthers' Harold Matthews team overcome a sluggish start to pummel the St George Dragons 22-10 in pouring rain at Kirkham Oval on Saturday.
The Dragons charged at the Panthers early with powerful defence making it difficult for Penrith to gain any significant metres.
Prop Tana Papu and captain Jenson Tuaoi both made early line-breaks in an attempt to open the Panthers’ try-scoring account, but the inability to hang onto the ball halted the building momentum.
Panthers lock Jack Ewer suffered a head knock early in the first half after the shoulder of a Dragon collided with the young forward in a tackle attempt.
After a 17-minute stalemate, Billy Thompson opened the scoring for Penrith, muscling his way through a crowd of Dragons to put the ball down on the left edge.
Donevski’s kick soared through the posts to extend the Panthers’ lead to 6-0.
St George attempted to strike back in the minutes that followed. Lyric Craft-Te Moananui charged through the Panthers line before offloading to Aiden Towson who looked to be in the clear, but the Panthers defence held strong, pushing the young winger into touch.
Absorbing the defensive pressure, Penrith looked to increase their lead, with fill-in fullback Riley Pollard using his halfback knowledge to create a play that looked too good to be true.
Pollard’s fifth tackle kick ricocheted off the left post, allowing him to regain possession of his own kick and dive through the Dragons line to score.
Donevski added the extras, putting the Panthers ahead by 12.
With two minutes left of the half, Thompson linked up with Donevski to punish the Dragons. The centre’s skilful footwork caught the St George defence off-guard as he weaved through the line to score.
Donevski converted his own try to give the Panthers an 18-point lead on the siren.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 18 - DRAGONS 0
Carrying their momentum into the second half, the Panthers were quick to broaden their winning margin, with Donevski gathering a loose ball that bounced off a Dragon on the fifth tackle, before flicking a pass to winger David Afu.
The kick from touch fell painfully short for Donevski, put the Panthers continued to hold the power of the scoreboard.
Trailing by 22 points, the Dragons were desperate to open their account and in the 44th minute, the opportunity came knocking.
Fullback Malik Amine burrowed his way through the Panthers defence to score, with the conversion waving away for Dragons captain Shadi Hammoud.
Hammound created another try-scoring play for his fullback ten minutes later, drawing the Penrith defence in to create a two-on-one overlap which saw Amine bag a double.
This time the conversion was on the mark for the skipper, but his efforts weren’t enough to steal the win from the Panthers.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 22 - DRAGONS 10