Matt Moylan has starred for the Penrith Panthers as they recorded a 26-10 victory over Wests Tigers at Leicchardt Oval on Sunday.
Moylan continues to grow in confidence at the back each week. His only blemish was dangerously throwing the ball back in goal, similar to last weekend’s error that led to a Warriors try. This time around Kevin Naiqama batted the ball over the dead ball line and the danger was diffused. Soon after, Moylan made up for the error and sliced through the Tigers defense to score the opening try and send the Panthers on their way.
At the same time Moylan crossed, the immediate future of Peter Wallace was in doubt after sustaining a leg injury in offloading the ball. His leg crunching by the arm of a Tigers player in a covering tackle. This forced Wallace from the field for the remainder of the game with a lengthy period on the sidelines a possibility.
Initially Wallace’s injury caused some confusion in attack but it wasn’t too long before the Panthers composed themselves and would be denied a try through the video officials when it was judged Jeremy Latimore had held back one of the markers when Tyrone Peachey dived over from dummy half.
On an afternoon dominated by decisions going to the video, Dean Whare received the final pass from Moylan to score out wide. Replays suggesting a bad read by Pat Richards that gave the Panthers a twelve point lead after Soward’s conversion from near touch. It was a poor afternoon for the veteran winger who was found out in dropping several kicks and generally caught out in defense.
Near half time Moylan put Jamal Idris in the clear, only to fall short of the line. In a first half played for the majority without Wallace, Penrith went into the sheds twelve points ahead. At one stage during the first half Penrith had only missed one tackle compared to the Wests Tigers sixteen and this pretty much summed up their domination.
Last week Penrith misfired after the half time break but this week was a different story. Nine minutes in and the Panthers extended their lead through Kevin Naiqama. It was the Tigers who gave Penrith the field position after three consecutive penalties. The last of the penalties saw Tigers captain Braith Anasta on report for a lifting tackle on Idris. Naiqama’s try cleared by the video officials after replays showed the winger grounded the ball correctly over the line. Anasta soon after had his afternoon end with a torn bicep.
It was former Panther Blake Austin who powered his way over the line to score the Tigers first try of the game three minutes later. Austin was originally selected at fullback but ended up starting from the bench after Mitch Moses made a good debut at fullback. As he has done in previous weeks Austin made a positive impact from the bench in a losing side.
The Tigers immediately lifted following the Austin try but to Penrith’s credit they matched their opponents intensity and scored not to long after through Idris. The Panthers going from right to left flanks with Tyrone Peachey sliding across field to find Idris on his outside running the straight line.
With eighteen minutes remaining Whare completed his double following another green light from the video officials. Penrith cleverly running two decoy runners through the Tigers defense with Soward and Moylan combining in the same fashion as Whare’s first. On this occasion Chris Lawrence missing the final tackle leading to the try.
Elijah Taylor and Adam Docker failed to complete the game after suffering concussion in separate incidents in attempting tackles. Taylor copped friendly fire from James Segeyaro in making a tackle. Docker spectacularly reeled out of an attempted tackle on Bodene Thompson.
Luke Brooks had a quiet day as he was well contained by the Panthers but ended up with the Tigers consolation try just minutes before the final siren.
Penrith’s victory by sixteen points put the club back in first spot on points differential, ahead of Manly and Canterbury. It was the perfect return to the winners circle. They were keen in the opening stages, shut down the Tigers playmakers and put their opposition under immense pressure. Defensively they made the Tigers work for their points. The loss of Wallace didn’t put the Panthers off their game. Again this speaks volumes of Penrith’s 2014 squad and coach Ivan Cleary.
Wests Tigers were never in the game and one has to wonder whether Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods would have made too much difference to the result. Missed tackles, dropped ball and lack of discipline summed up the Tigers day as they were outclassed.
PENRITH PANTHERS 26 (Dean Whare 2, Matt Moylan, Kevin Naiqama, Jamal Idris tries; Jamie Soward 3 goals) defeated WESTS TIGERS 10 (Blake Austin, Luke Brooks tries; Pat Richards goal)
BRENT KITE CELEBRATES GAME 300 WITH VICTORY
Penrith Panthers handed veteran prop Brent Kite victory in his 300th National Rugby League game. The thirty-three year old is in the first year of a two year contract with the club and has failed to disappoint. While Matt Moylan and Dean Whare stole the show with dazzling displays in attack, Kite’s contribution was good in making twenty-six tackles and carting the ball up fifteen times for seventy-six metres.
The recruitment of Kite and Elijah Taylor in the forward pack has done wonders for the Panthers. Taylor’s contribution of forty-two tackles before being concussed with friendly fire from James Segeyaro, has been a positive for Penrith who now sit at the top of the competition ladder on points differential.
They are one of the most improved defensive sides in the National Rugby League. In 2013 the side averaged twenty-two points against them each game. In 2014 the team concedes sixteen points a game and are only third to Canterbury and South Sydney in defense.
Panther fans can smell finals football even though the coach, players and management are only taking one week at a time. On twenty-four points, Penrith are only six points from the magic mark of thirty points. A win against Brisbane next Monday will continue the Panthers charge towards the finals.
Their run into the final weeks will be without Peter Wallace. Results of a leg injury are expected in the next few days after leaving the game early in the Panthers victory over Wests Tigers yesterday.