Peter Wallace’s NSW Cup team struggled to survive a second-half onslaught by the Western Suburbs Magpies, going down 32-20 at at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The clash was relatively even in the first half with both teams going try-for-try, but the Magpies came out of the sheds firing at half time to reining in three four-pointers in 16 minutes to seal the win.
Thomas Jenkins looked certain to score for Penrith in the opening minutes off the back of a brilliant chip-and-chase. The centre sprinted 30 metres before the ball rolled over the sideline.
Using the attacking momentum, Jack Cole identified an overlap on the left edge throwing a beautiful rainbow pass to send winger Logan Dickson over for the first four-pointer of the game. Cole added the extras from medium range to give Penrith a six-point lead.
Four minutes later the Magpies consolidated to open their account, with Tyrone Peachey flicking a pass to Brandon Tumeth who barrelled over a Panther to ground the ball. Jock Madden’s conversion attempt was on the mark, locking the scores at six-apiece.
After some dominant attacking play to put the Panthers in strong field position, Luke Sommerton picked up the ball from dummy-half and wiggled his was over the try-line in the 24th minute. Cole slotted the conversion to put the Panthers ahead.
Madden and Johnny Mitsias combined 10 minutes later to level the scores once more, with the winger receiving an offload from his halfback to ground the ball under the posts. Madden made no mistake with the conversion from in-front.
In the final minute of the opening half, Madden kicked a penalty goal from the 35-metre mark to give Western Suburbs a two-point advantage at the break.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 12 - MAGPIES 14
One minute into the second half Peachey snagged his first try for the Magpies, diving over from close range to extend the home team’s lead to six. Madden’s conversion sailed through the uprights to put Western Suburbs on the front foot in attack.
In the 46th minute the Magpies found themselves within five metres of their try-line, allowing Junior Pauga to stretch over the line and ground the ball. Madden continued to execute from across the field giving his team a 14-point advantage.
Capitalising on Penrith’s tiring defence, a cut-out ball from the Magpies created a left-edge overlap giving Trey Peni the opportunity to add another four-points to the board for the home side. Madden made it 20-points the difference half-way into the second half.
Jenkins provided a glimmer of hope for the Panthers in the final 10 minutes of the game, taking on the defence before grounding the ball in the corner. Cole’s kick struck the posts before bouncing away.
In the 73rd minute Penrith skipper John Faiumu leaped into the air making a one-handed catch off a Cole bomb before looking to ground the ball, but the referre blew his whistle for a knock-on and the Panthers were forced to defend again.
Logan Dickson crossed in the corner for his second try of the day, but the attacking effort wasn’t enough to steal the win from the Magpies
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 20 - MAGPIES 32