The Penrith Panthers have shown they are the team to beat as the run to the finals in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership heats up. The mountain men recorded a hard-fought 14-10 victory over the NZ Warriors at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday which gives them a 3-point buffer at the top of the ladder. Fresh off their come from behind victory against the St George Illawarra Dragons a week prior, the Panthers showed resolute defence in the second half to keep the Warriors scoreless after going onto the half time sheds 14-10 up. Missing the likes of Caleb Aekins and Jerome Luai, the depth out at the Panthers is impressive.
Meanwhile it was a cracking performance from the North Sydney Bears on Frank Hyde Shield day at North Sydney Oval in the other big game on Saturday. The Bears rallied from 28-10 down in the final 20 mins to stun the Jets and escape with a 28-28 draw. The Jets had controlled proceedings for much of the game on the back of tries to Sosaia Feki, Jack Williams, Briton Nikora, Aaron Gray and Matt Evans. However a flurry of points to the Bears in the final 15 minutes left the Jets grounded and make them wonder how they didn’t leave the north with the two competition points. For the Bears, Rhys Kennedy was a standout up front with his workload and enthusiasm as well as hooker Billy Brittain who scored a try. Norths are still five points adrift of the top 8 and will need to continue their tightrope to the finals next week after their bye.
In the rounds other results: Mounties maintained 2nd spot of the ladder with a thumping 28-8 win over a flat Wests side, Wyong moved within one point of the top 8 with a 26-18 win over Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles and the Dragons moved into the top 4 once again with a 40-22 demolition of the lowly Wentworthvile Mapgpies as winger Jordan Pereira bagged his 16th try of the season.
In Round 19, the SWR League team will be out at Belmore for the big match between the 6th placed Bulldogs and 5th placed Wests Magpies. This becomes a vital match for both teams as there is just a four-point game separating 3rd from 9th. The Magpies have been in free fall of late having led the ladder earlier in the season. They still have quality all over the park in fullback Tui Lolohea, play maker Tyson Gamble and tough backrower Chris McQueen and will be hoping they can arrest the slide.
The Dogs on the other hand have lost a lot of quality to their first grade squad (Rhyse Martin, Reimis Smith, Lachlan Lewis and Kerrod Holland to name a few) but have been able to promote some younger players to fill the void. Morgan Harper has been one of these players and has been very impressive in the centres. Wests will need to try and shut down the playmaking abilities of Matt Frawley and Josh Cleeland who run their team like a a well oiled machine if given time and space.
You can listen to the call of this game on SWR999.com.au/SS1 with Jack Clifton, Jon Gallo and Cam Hickson from 12.30pm with kickoff at 1pm.
In the rounds other matches: Penrith travel to cellar dwellers the Newcastle Knights, Newtown battle Wentworthville at Ringrose Park, Mounties and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles lock horns at Aubrey Keech Reserve and The New Zealand Warriors and Wyong do battle over the ditch.