Penrith has continued on its winning ways over 3rd placed Wests Tigers outfit that was severely depleted on troops due to injury & representative duty in recording a solid 40-20 win at Leichhardt Oval today, built mainly on the back of an impressive first half performance which saw the Panthers score 30 points. The win sees the Panthers continue to lead the NSW Cup having won 14 of their last 15 games including ten straight.
Coach Garth Brennan would have been happier overall with the team performance but would have liked his team to have really put the Tigers to the sword having opened up a 34-6 lead just after halftime but failure to execute promising attacking raids allowed the Tigers to somewhat restore some respectability to the score line in the latter stages of the second half.
Penrith made two changes in a reshuffled line that saw Pat Hollis make his NSW Cup debut from the interchange bench (& come up against older brother & ex-Panther Sam Hollis) & joined by Kierran Moseley. Waqa Blake’s selection in the NSW Cup representative side allowed Liam Ayoub to start at halfback in a reshuffled Panthers backline. The Tigers were also missing Mitchell Moses called up to the NRL to make his first grade debut.
The Tigers got off to a bright start when a Jack Madden cross field kick was spilt by Tom Eisenhuth close to his tryline & Corey Brown was on the spot to regather & score underneath the posts to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead with Dayne Craig’s conversion.
The Panthers responded soon after in the 19th minute when a short ball from Tom Humble allowed Ben Murdoch-Masila to break thru the line & go 45m to score against his former team-mates in the right corner & picking up an elbow injury in the process which forced him out of the game. Wes Naiqama’s conversion from the touchline levelling the scores. A Wes Naiqama line break down the Tigers right edge in the next set almost allowed Luke Capewell to score but a few plays later a clever grubber in the in-goal from Ayoub allowed Naiqama to score & the Panthers led 12-6.
A comedy of errors was the catalyst for Penrith’s 3rd try of the half in the 31st minute. A touch finder from Ayoub went astray but the Tigers knocked the ball into touch giving Penrith a reprieve from the kick error 35m out from the Tigers try line. A sweeping backline movement to the right from the scrum win allowed Luke Capewell to break through the line before providing a great inside ball for Will Smith to score his 2nd try for the game. Naiqama’s conversion giving the Panthers a handy 18-6 lead.
An intercept from Tom Eisenhuth inside the Tigers half allowed Penrith to extend that lead a few plays later in the 35th minute when Will Smith took off from dummy half beat a couple of feeble attempted tackles before going 25m to score untouched underneath the posts to give the Panthers a commanding 24-6 lead. The Panthers were able to extend that lead to 30-6 at half-time after an Akouola offload went horribly wrong & Eisenhuth went 35m to score the easiest of tries.
The Panthers continued where they left off in the first half piling on more points in the 47th minute when Tom Humble worked his trademark wrap-around play with his forwards inside the Tigers 20m zone before combining with Will Smith to put Eisenhuth in for his second try & the Tigers were gone at 34-6. Soon after another concern for the Panthers arose when Tim Grant was placed on report by referee Adam Cassidy for dangerous contact in the tackle.
The Panthers had the opportunity to really put on a score during the second half but poor execution at key moments saw try-scoring opportunities go astray. The Tigers began to capitalise on these errors & through a glut of possession were able to score three unanswered tries of their own through Inno Inosesio, Sonny Bristow & Brendan Santi to narrow the gap to 34-20. The Panthers were able to regain their composure to score one final try with Eisenhuth completing his hat-trick when a great cut-out pass from Capewell allowed the winger to score in the right corner from close range. Wes Naiqama nailed the conversion from the right touchline once more to allow the Panthers a record a 40-20 win.
The Panthers now have a 6 day turnaround before taking on the Newtown Jets in consecutive games, the first of which sees the Jets travel to Sporting Bet Stadium to take on the competition front-runners before the Panthers head to Allianz Stadium the following Saturday.
Penrith Panthers 40 (T Eisenhuth 3, W Smith 2, B Murdoch-Masila, W Naiqama tries; Wes Naiqama 6 goals from 7 attempts) d. Wests Tigers 20 (C Brown, I Inosesio, S Bristow, B Santi tries; Craig 1 goal from 1 attempts, M Stevens 1 goal from 3 attempts) at Leichhardt Oval.