Penrith Panthers 22
Tries: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2, James Segeyaro, Matt Moylan,
Goals: Jamie Soward 3
Field Goals: nil
New Zealand Warriors 6
Tries: Manu Vatuvei
Goals: Shaun Johnson
Field Goals: nil
Penrith Panthers were rewarded with a top four finish following their solid 22-6 victory over New Zealand Warriors at SportingBet Stadium on Sunday.
The Warriors bowed out of finals contention that gifted the Brisbane Broncos an unlikely top eight finish after their Friday night loss to Melbourne Storm.
Down and out at 16-0, the visitors got on the scoreboard three minutes after the break after Manu Vatuvei picked up a kick return and went through some weak Panthers defense on his way to a ninety-five metre try. This lifted the Warriors who were almost over again four minutes later when Feleti Mateo was held up over the line.
Sadly the ten minute passage after the break was not a reflection on the rest of the game where they only managed to complete seven sets in the first half and Shaun Johnson often misfiring passes as the Warriors tried to expose Penrith out wide.
It was a shaky start for Penrith with Sam McKendry losing the ball in the tackle from the kick-off. This was one rare mistake in a polished performance. The opening penalty of the game also led to the first try with James Segeyaro scoring from dummy half as he returned for the Panthers after two weeks of personal leave.
New Zealand Warriors were denied soon after when Ngani Laumpe was penalised following the video replay where he appeared to obstruct Josh Mansour contesting Johnson’s kick.
Sustained pressure from the Panthers who were camped on the Warriors line paid off after sixteen minutes when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossed following a scrum win with Will Smith and Matt Moylan having a hand in the lead-up. Right on half time the Warriors task became more difficult when Moylan ran across field and found a gap in the defense to score.
The game was over with six minutes to go when Moylan’s kick out wide found an unmarked Watene-Zelezniak who crossed for a double. Penrith confirmed their top four finish and now face the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night in the first week of the finals.
Brent Kite’s return from injury will boost the Panthers finals hopes and with Jeremy Latimore returning this week, they will provide worthy competition for the defending premiers. Jamal Idris was solid in defense pulling off some big hits before almost knocking himself out when he was penalised for a mid air tackle late in the game. Moylan has remained consistently good at fullback. Smith continues to improve each week alongside Soward. Segeyaro’s return put his team on the front foot against the in-form Warriors side. This allowed Nigel Plum and Sam McKendry to make good ground as the Panthers charged forward.
New Zealand Warriors under new coach Andrew McFadden finished the season strong only to miss out on the eight on points difference. Tomkins in his first season is starting to make an impact in the National Rugby League. Konrad Hurrell was kept quiet all night and Ben Henry made too many errors in a finals-like atmosphere. Simon Mannering was unable to lift his team when they needed him the most.