Penrith Panthers have extended their winning streak to four, toppling the Parramatta Eels 40-32 in Round 9 of the Jersey Flegg Cup at BlueBet Stadium on Friday afternoon.
A late comeback effort from Parramatta almost spoiled Penrith's result, but doubles to fullback Isaiah Iongi and winger Cody Lawson, as well as 16-points from Niwhai Puru, helped the Panthers seal the win.
Parramatta were first to score in the ninth minute after some crisp left-edge passing put winger Turoa Williams over in the corner. The conversion attempt for captain Corey Fanning waved to the right.
An error from the Eels off the kick-off would allow the Panthers an opportunity to strike back.
Receiving a goal-line dropout, a line-break from halfback Niwhai Puru put Mavrik Geyer into space, eventually connecting with fullback Isaiah Iongi who dived over the try-line. Puru was quick to add the extras from close range, extending the home side’s lead to two.
The Eels would send the ball out on the full off the restart, affording the Panthers a chance to extend their lead.
Maintaining possession throughout the set, winger Cody Lawson would add an extra four points to the board for Penrith, grounding the ball in the corner. Puru’s conversion from touch sailed through the posts putting the Panthers ahead by eight.
Four minutes later Geyer would claim his own try, off some quick passing from Iongi created a gap in the Eels’ defence. This time the conversion attempt from the right sideline fell short for Puru, keeping the home team at a steady 16-4 lead.
An precise inside ball from centre William Fakatoumafi put Iongi over for a double in the 28th minute, after a solid run from Puru left the Eels’ defense scattered. Puru slotted the conversion, carrying the Panthers to an 18-point lead.
A last-minute effort from the Eels would see Larry Muagututia plow through a collection of Panthers to put the ball down under the posts. Fenning’s conversion clawed back the deficit to 12-points on the siren.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 22 - EELS 10
The Panthers would open their second-half account after four minutes of play through a high bomb by Puru that was taken in the air by Lawson, scoring his second try of the game. Puru made no mistake with the kick, adding two more points to the board for Penrith.
Daeon Amituanai would join the list of try-scorers in the 41st minute, receiving an offload from Geyer, who fought off four Eels to get the ball away to his winger. Puru continued his superb kicking game, this time nailing his attempt from the left edge.
Utilising the building momentum, Puru made his way across the try-line after snagging a flick pass from hooker Connor Mason, whose speed off dummy-half caught Parramatta’s defence off-guard.
Speed off dummy-half from Connor Mason caught the Parramatta defence off-guard minutes later, putting Puru over for the line for his first try of the game. The halfback converted his own try, taking the Panthers to a 30-point lead.
Eels fullback Dantoray Lui dived on a loose ball in-goal to keep his team’s hopes alive in the 55th minute, with Fenning adding the extras to bring the score to 40-16.
Three minutes later a 30-metre run from Ethan Sanders gave the skipper a chance to add another four-pointer for the visitors. Fenning would dodge and weave his way through the Panthers backline to score in the corner, but couldn’t convert his own try in the minutes that followed.
Noticing space in the Panthers line, Lui ran straight through the defence to score behind the posts with Fenning kicking the conversion quickly to bring his team with 14-points.
A show-and-go from Sanders added another four points to the board for the Eels and Fenning brought the score within eight, but the clock was against the visitors.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 40 - EELS 32