Penrith Panthers have ended a four game losing streak and hold on to a slim chance of making the top eight following their 28-24 victory over New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
The signs weren’t good early on with Lachlan Coote looking uncomfortable in his first run on start since returning from injury. Quick tries to Thomas Leuluai and Penrith-bound Elijah Taylor put the Warriors ahead by twelve within the first ten minutes of the match.
The writing was on the wall for another long afternoon but on twenty minutes a lucky break came by the way of a Isaac John pass which the crowd thought was forward ended up in Josh Mansour breaking his try scoring drought for 2013.
A flying dive for the line by David Simmons was spectacular as the winger completed his eighteen try of the season. That try however was nothing on Bryce Cartwright’s NYC pearler in their great win over the Warriors. Dean Whare put Simmons in again just before the break and the Panthers were on top with a 16-12 lead.
The most loyal Panther fans would have been fearing a capitulation just like in recent weeks but it wasn’t to be. Patience and good goal line defence kept the Warriors at bay. Right on the hour mark Josh Mansour completed his double chasing down a kick from Lachlan Coote that appeared too long. Mansour grabbed the ball with both hands, transferred to his right hand to place the ball down on the ground. Sensational effort from the winger.
Suaia Matagi’s rampaging sixty-third minute try put the Warriors within reach of victory. Amongst all the drama with both teams’ season on the line a controversial moment when referee Jason Robinson got in the way of a Warriors pass within their twenty metre line. Under current rules it gave the Panthers possession but the Warriors survived.
Sika Manu crossed with ten minutes remaining after the previous play saw Isaac John find a gap in the Warriors defence and Josh Mansour linked up with Lewis Brown before the Kiwi International was tackled. Konrad Hurrell try with seven minutes remaining was nerve-racking for Panther fans desperate to see their side win. Some great defence in the final stages saw the Warriors bundled over the sideline and it was enough for the Panthers to come away with victory.
A victory completed by a good effort from Luke Walsh but outstanding performances by both wingers Josh Mansour, Dave Simmons and their inside centres in Lewis Brown and Dean Whare laid the platform for a win across the ditch.
Penrith face an elimination style game this week against Brisbane at Centrebet on Friday night while New Zealand travel to the Gold Coast with another loss set to end their 2013 campaign.
PENRITH PANTHERS 28 (J Mansour 2, D Simmons 2, S Manu tries; L Walsh 4 goals) defeated NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 24 (T Leuluai, E Taylor, S Matagi, K Hurrell tries; S Johnson 4 goals)