The Penrith Panthers Knock-On Effect NSW Cup finals hopes have taken a major hit, suffering a 26-14 loss to the Warriors at St Marys Leagues Stadium on a grey and drizzly Saturday afternoon.
There was a lengthy hold-up early in the second half when Warriors fullback Ben Farr had to be stretchered off in a neck brace, however the Warriors put it behind them to score three unanswered tries and leave the Panthers in danger of dropping out of the top 5.
It was a bad start for the Panthers, conceding a try in the opening minute when an attempted charge-down bounced kindly for the Warriors, seeing Kalani Going touch down in the corner to take a 4-0 lead.
The Panthers began to work their way back into the contest after the early setback, coming close to scoring on several occasions before Preston Riki marked his return with a simple try, diving through a huge hole in the defensive line in the 20th minute. Jack Cole converted to take the lead, 6-4.
A barnstorming solo effort from Jesse McLean extended the Panthers lead to 10-4 in the 28th minute, running 40m and leaving several defenders behind on the way.
The Warriors spent the final five minutes of the half peppering the Panthers line, finally breaking through as the siren sounded with Setu Tu diving over in the right-hand corner. Ronald Volkman’s conversion was again unsuccessful, allowing the Panthers to head to half time with a 10-8 lead.
The Panthers overcame a slow start to the second half to quickly extend their lead back to a converted try, with Jack Cogger combining with Isaiah Iongi on the last, with the fullback throwing a glorious cutout pass for Tom Jenkins to score in the corner.
The Warriors put the loss of Farr behind them, quickly hitting back with a try in the corner to Moala Graham-Taufa. Volkman converted from the sideline to lock the scores at 14-all.
An error by Daeon Amituanai after collecting a kick on the hour mark then gave Michael Sio a simple try to take the lead for the visitors. Volkman again converted to make it 20-14.
Another unsuccessful charge-down put the Warriors deep on the attack again, before a Volkman bomb was knocked down for Freddy Lussick to score. Volkman’s conversion gave the Warriors a 12-point lead with less than 12 minutes remaining.
The Panthers desperately attempted to fight back, however they were unable to break through the Warriors defence, with a last-ditch tackle forcing an error from Iongi close to the line sealing the result.