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NSW Cup Panthers fall to dominant Warriors side

The Penrith Panthers are in danger of surrendering top spot in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup after their second successive defeat, this time 22-10 at the hands of the Warriors, at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.

Both sides were missing key personnel with Panthers Tyrone Peachey, Trent Toelau, Matt Eisenhuth and Brad Schneider absent from today’s clash, while the Warriors had to endure the losses of Ben Farr, Paul Roache and Zyon Maiu’u.

The opening twenty minutes was littered with errors and poor discipline with neither team able to assert any scoreboard pressure.

But with Luron Patea sent to the sin bin for repeat offences in the 14th minute, the Warriors were able to eventually take advantage, scoring opening points in the 21st minute through hooker Makaia Tafua with a quick dart from dummy-half close to the line. It gave the away side a 6-0 advantage with the conversion from Motu Pasikala.

An error from a 20-metre restart from the Panthers enabled the Warriors to extend their lead on 32 minutes when they opted to run on the last with a shift right, that allowed centre Moala Graham-Taufa to dummy outside and fool the Panthers’ defence with some quick stepping to score. Despite missing the conversion, the Warriors held a handy 10-nil lead while losing centre Sio Kali to what looked to be a serious leg injury.

With minutes before halftime, Soni Luke placed a deft kick into the in-goal and appeared to have set Penrith up for their first try, but centre David Fale was unable to ground the ball. For the first time in season 2024, the Panthers were held scoreless at the main break trailing by the 10 points.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to open their account upon resumption in the second half, when several sets inside the Warriors 20 enabled a hit-and-spin effort one off the ruck from Ativalu Lisati. The backrower crashed over next to the posts from close range to bridge the gap to within four points with Billy Scott’s conversion after 46 minutes.

The Panthers were starting to gain ascendancy and were able to level the scores midway through the second half with a slick back-line movement, ending with winger Jesse McLean diving over in the corner.

It was the Warriors who scored next to break the deadlock through back-rower Eddie Ieremia-Toeava out wide, and with Pasikala’s conversion successful, the visitors headed into the last 10 minutes leading by six.

More errors from the Panthers in their own half proved decisive, when in the 74th minute makeshift fullback Pasikala showed amazing strength to reach out and score from close range next to the posts, despite the attention of four Penrith defenders, to seal an important 22-10 win for the Warriors.

Talking Points

  • A raft of changes saw Alex Seve, Falapa Letoi and Zach Lamont play their first NSW Cup games for the Panthers.
  • The Warriors came into the game against the top-ranked Panthers in sixth position, with five wins, a draw (also against the Panthers) and four losses.
  • Penrith have now lost two successive games having come through the opening nine rounds undefeated. The 10-0 halftime score was the first time in season 2024 that the Panthers were held scoreless in the first half.
  • The Warriors’ win over the Panthers is their fifth from 18 games played.

Key Moment

The effort of Warriors fullback Motu Pasikala to reach out and score despite the attention of at least four Penrith defenders, sealed an important win for a Warriors side that has now moved into the top five pending other results from Magic Round.

What's Next?

Next Saturday the Panthers will be looking to regain their mojo when they come up against NSW Cup rivals, Newtown Jets at Henson Park, while the Warriors will return to North Sydney Oval next Sunday when they take on the North Sydney Bears.

Match report courtesy of NSWRL. Written by Stewart Moses.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.