Penrith Panthers have claimed their sixth-straight win in the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, downing the North Sydney Bears 17-12 at North Sydney Oval on Friday Night.
Impressive performances by Charlie Staines and Sean O’Sullivan helped the Panthers hold on for victory after the Bears clawed their way back into the game after half-time.
Penrith were first to strike in the 15th minute, after a high bomb from Sean O’Sullivan was fumbled by the Bears. Both Preston Riki and Thomas Jenkins scrambled to ground the loose ball, but it was Riki who claimed the four-pointer.
Kurt Falls’ conversion attempt sailed through the posts, extending the visitors' lead to six.
The Bears responded in the 21st minute when Adam Keighran crossed over for a try. The conversion from touch proved too difficult for the North Sydney centre, keeping the home side at a two-point deficit.
Bears prop forward Daniel Suluka-Fifita was sent to the sin-bin seven minutes later for an ill-disciplined tackle after Penrith were awarded a penalty.
A textbook attacking play from Penrith saw Soni Luke wait patiently at dummy-half to send captain J’maine Hopgood through a hole in the defence, diving over to score.
Falls was quick to add the extras from close range, giving the Panthers an eight-point lead.
Taking full advantage of the extra man, Jenkins turned up the speed on the left-edge, chasing down a crisp kick from O’Sullivan to claim four-points of his own. The kick from touch waved away for Falls.
After two repeat sets in attack, a smart play from Penrith gave an undefended O’Sullivan the chance to knock over a field-goal on the siren.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 17 – BEARS 4
The home side put on a show in the opening minutes of the first half, spreading the ball to the right creating an overlap on the wing. Kevin Naiqama charged towards the corner with Sunia Turuva doing his best to cover the gap, but the talented winger kept himself in play, leaping through the air to put the ball down.
With the crowd behind them, North Sydney charged at their try-line for repeat sets in the minutes that followed. In the 60th minute a kick from Sandon Smith broke the Panthers line, as both teams scrambled for possession Keighran eventually grounded the ball to claim his second try of the match.
The conversion fell short once again for the Bears, who trailed by five.
Fighting the heavy downpour, Penrith held the nerve causing a knock-on in the final minute to secure their sixth consecutive win.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 17 - BEARS 12