Penrith won their third straight game, defeating the Roosters 19-10 at Panthers Stadium.
In front of 16,883 fans, the Penrith Panthers defeated the Sydney Roosters 19-10 to continue closing the gap between them and the top eight.
Welcoming back Blues halfback Nathan Cleary, the Panthers produced one of their best performances of the season to remind the rest of the competition they are still dangerous.
Roosters Origin representatives Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco backed up from Wednesday night and produced solid 80 minute performances.
Viliame Kikau opened the scoring with a scintillating effort to beat three Roosters defenders and crash over next to the posts, putting the home side up 6-0 after two minutes.
Tedesco was at his best when he threw a brilliant cut out ball to winger Daniel Tupou, who scored in the corner to narrow the deficit to two points midway through the first half.
Whatever coach Ivan Clearly said at half time worked wonders for the Panthers, as they came out in the second half a more aggressive and clinical outfit.
James Maloney’s cross field kick landed in Kikau’s hands, who bulldozed over in the corner to make the score 12-4 with 30 minutes to play. Maloney had the ball on a string all afternoon.
Soon after, the Roosters’ Victor Radley – who started off the bench – scored the visitors’ second and last try of the game as he ran away from fullback Dylan Edwards.
A grandstand finish was on the cards.
The Penrith forwards were fantastic all day as the team ran for 1,757 metres: a dominant showing against a formidable Roosters pack.
By having the edge in the forwards, the Panthers held the advantage in the territory battle, which Maloney took advantage of as his grubber was collected by Brent Naden to put all the pressure back on the Roosters.
The gap proved too much for the visitors to make up as a late Maloney field goal saw the score finish 19-10.
After winning just two of their first ten games, the men from the foot of the mountains are one win outside the top eight and will like their chances next week against a Souths side missing some key players.
JAMES MALONEY IS BACK TO HIS BEST
After missing out on Origin selection following a below-par start to the season, Maloney was superb today with three try assists, one 40/20 and a field goal in a dominant display. His combination with Nathan Cleary is starting to click, which is a warning sign to the rest of the competition.
FIJIAN SUPERSTAR DOES IT AGAIN
Penrith second rower Viliame Kikau had a day out – scoring two tries and running for 152 metres in a strong performance. For a big man, Kikau’s quick feet and attacking nous is unique and makes him extremely hard to stop when he’s playing well, which seems to be a lot this year. If only he was from New South Wales…
TOUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR CRONK
The Roosters halfback was hit from pillar to post on multiple occasions on Sunday afternoon. His opposite half Nathan Cleary put a ripping shot in Cronk in the first half. Without Luke Keary for the next few weeks, Cronk will most likely have talented youngster Drew Hutchinson pairing him in the halves; Cronk will have to run for more than eight metres – like he did today – for the Chooks to get back on the winners board.
ROOSTERS WILL BE FINE
Today was the Roosters’ third straight loss but there’s no need to panic. Origin representatives Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton were rested and coach Trent Robinson is starting to blood youngsters Drew Hutchinson and Sam Verrills. The Chooks will be around in September when the whips are cracking, don’t you worry.
PENRITH PANTHERS 19
Tries: Viliame Kikau 2, Brent Naden
Goals: Nathan Cleary 3/3
Drop Goals: James Maloney 1/1
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 10
Tries: Daniel Tupou, Victor Radley
Goals: Drew Hutchinson 1/3
PENRITH PANTHERS: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Isaah Yeo 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. Nathan Cleary 7. James Maloney 8. James Tamou 20. Mitchell Kenny 13. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Frank Winterstein 15. Liam Martin. Interchange: 6. Jarome Luai 9. Wayde Egan 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 16. Moses Leota
SYDNEY ROOSTERS: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 17. Mitchell Aubusson 4. Joseph Manu 19. Ryan Hall 6. Drew Hutchison 7. Cooper Cronk 15. Zane Tetevano 21. Sam Verrills 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 16. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu. Interchange: 5. Matt Ikuvalu 9. Victor Radley 14. Nat Butcher 20. Lindsay Collins