Penrith Panthers have progressed into fifth position on the Jersey Flegg Cup ladder after defeating the Wests Tigers 26-16 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The Panthers steamrolled the Tigers in the opening half with Cody Lawson and Kristian-Li Mi scoring four-pointers while Ryley Smith bagged a double but the home team fought back after the break.
Penrith got off to a flying start, with Keagan Russell-Smith executing a perfect chip-kick which sat down into the hands of winger Cody Lawson who grounded the ball undefended on the right edge. Russell-Smith struggled to convert from touch as the visitors maintained a four-point lead.
Seven minutes later the Panthers proved their dominance in attack once more, this time spreading the ball to the left edge, creating an overlap for centre Kristian-Li Mai to cross in the corner. Russell-Smith couldn’t convert from the sideline.
SG Ball premiership winner Ryley Smith extended Penrith’s lead in the 19th minute after a huge run from hooker Connor Mason put the visitors in prime position to strike. A grubber from Russell-Smith ricocheted off the posts into the hands of Smith who slid through under the posts. This time the conversion cleared the posts for Russell-Smith, notching the Panthers out to a 14-point lead.
Needing a response, the Tigers capitalised off Penrith knocking the ball on off the restart, with centre Kurt Picken diving over in the 22nd minute. Zane Camroux’s conversion waved away as the home team trained by 10.
Another crisp kick from Russell-Smith caused a knock on by Wests fullback CJ Mundine, opening the gates for Smith to bag his second try of the half under the posts. Russell-Smith sealed his SG Ball teammate’s try with an extra two-points.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 20 - TIGERS 4
Wests Tigers opened their second half account in the 43rd minute when Jacob Anjoul scooped the ball up from dummy-half and dived through a gap in the Panthers defensive line. Camroux’s conversion sailed through the posts, reducing the deficit to 10.
In the 59th minute Tigers hooker Michael Tannous made his way to the try-line, weaving through a collection of Panthers before grounding the ball. Camroux’s conversion put the home side within four-points of the lead.
An error from Wests in their defensive half gave Tyreece Tonga the opportunity to seal the win, with the forward ploughing through three Tigers to claim the four-pointer. Russell-Smith converted the try from medium range to make it a 10-point victory.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 26 - WESTS TIGERS 16