The Panthers and Tigers played out a strange game on Sunday evening in that both sides kept giving each other opportunities to run away with the game. But it didn’t actually happen until well into the second half.
A Win’s a Win
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t always a given, but the Panthers managed eke out a victory against the flawed, but determined, Tigers. The win, their fifth straight, has now elevated them into the Top 8, unseating the Dragons, which is incredible given their strong start. But the Panthers faithful wouldn’t be giving a damn about that. Their boys, highly anticipated to be near the tip of the ladder before the start of the season, are where they think they ought to be – finals bound.
That may be a little premature given there is another four rounds to go, but considering the amount of work the Panthers have had to go through to get here, we’ll let them celebrate. After all, as they say “a win is a win is a win.”
Will It Be One and Done Though?
If the finals started next weekend, could you see the Panthers going far? They struggled through this game and were lucky that the Tigers found things the same way, otherwise this could have been a great upset. But as we have seen as the season has gone on, the quality of the teams at the top of the ladder has left the rest of the competition seemingly making up the numbers. If the Panthers produce a game where they can only complete at 64% thanks to 14 errors, many teams in the Top 8 will leave them for dead.
The Panthers are 1 from 7 against teams currently in the Top 8, and as much as momentum going into a finals series is important, gauging the quality of opposition is important. Unfortunately, the opposition that Penrith have played during their purple patch in form have been teams outside the Top 8 with the exception of Manly. The Panthers have four weeks to get things right, but it isn’t going to be easy. They have the Cowboys, Raiders, Dragons and Manly ahead of them. All four are either getting themselves ready for their own finals campaign or are trying to sneak into the Top 8 at Penrith’s expense. If Penrith can get through the next month, they deserve their spot in the finals. And who knows what can happen if they get there.
All Is Well At The Cleary’s
As much as Ivan Cleary would be disappointed in the loss, he would have been happy with most of the game in terms of effort from his Tigers players. They hung in despite the score never being in their favour. In fact, it was the type of game that had gotten out of hand earlier in the season, so whatever it is that Ivan is doing, the players are seemingly buying into it. However, there is a lot of work to be done, as was evident in their inability to hold onto the ball in the second half when the game was there for the taking.
But he would also be happy for his son. Nathan, the Panthers halfback, was one of Penrith’s best today with his goal kicking once again showing that he can be the complete package. Poise, skill, determination and plenty of points in him. And he is only 19. It is little wonder the Panthers want to wrap him up in a long-term contract.
It was a strange situation for the Cleary household, but life should get back to normal now. Until the next time anyway.
And The Oscar Goes To…?
Another game and another Oscar winning performance from a player in the hope of stopping a try being awarded and an obstruction penalty coming their way. There have been a few great performances over the years. Jamie Lyon and Paul Gallen are two names that spring to mind. They put in stellar acts and got the rewards for it. Bravo to them. In this game, it was foxy veteran Chris Lawrence with the swan dive. And yep, you guessed it, he had the try brought back and a penalty in his favour.
The laws of common sense have well and truly left our game.
Once upon a time, you could say that if something looked like a duck and sounded like a duck, it was a duck. Now? If it looks like a try but some bloke has tripped over his own feet after being beaten by the player with the ball, and collides with an opponent whilst falling over, it must be an obstruction.
There are a lot of issues in the game at present and a lot of them stem from the officiating. The growing number of coaches who are unable to hold their tongues in recent weeks is symptomatic. The soccer diving when an obstruction is in question is another. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any improvement in sight. Fingers crossed that the better teams win in the finals, eh.
Tries: Peachey (18m), Watene Zelezniak (32m. 74m), Edwards (45m), May (78m)
Goals: Cleary 4/5
Tries: Nofoaluma (25m, 40m), Brooks (54m)
Goals: Lolohea 1/3