Brendan Wood reviews the Penrith Panthers hard-fought 19-12 win over the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium. Here’s how the game went:
|2nd||Try – Stephen Crichton (Panthers)||Panthers 6-0|
|28th||Try – Matt Eisenhuth (Tigers)||6 All|
|33rd||Try – Tommy Talau (Tigers)||Tigers 10-6|
|46th||Try – Stephen Crichton (Panthers)||Panthers 12-10|
|59th||Penalty Goal – Adam Doueihi (Tigers)||12 All|
|72nd||Field Goal – Nathan Cleary (Panthers)||Panthers 13-12|
|73rd||Try – Dylan Edwards (Panthers)||Panthers 19-12|
The Panthers started fast when Viliame Kikau forced an error with a big hit on Luke Garner. This gave the Panthers prime field position and they pounced in their first set. They spread the ball to the left and got a big overlap for Stephen Crichton to score untouched. The Tigers faced a barrage of attack in the next ten minutes but stood firm in defence. They went close to scoring a try of their own through Joey Leilua but the Panthers scrambled to shutdown the opening.
After a tough period of physical play between the two sides, Nathan Cleary kicked a 40/20 to turn the momentum back in the Panthers favour. Despite building pressure through multiple repeat sets, the Tigers continued to turn the Panthers away. Off the back of their solid defence, the Tigers got several six again calls to get them into attacking position. They capitalised on the repeat sets and got on the board when Matt Eisenhuth reached out to score under the posts.
The Tigers continued to surge when Dylan Edwards made an error on a kick return. Off the next play, they spread the ball to Tommy Talau who found his way to the line, giving the Tigers a 10-6 lead going into halftime.
The Panthers were quick out of the blocks after the break. They took advantage of a six again call and Stephen Crichton scored his second try of the night. He got a fortunate bounce in the in-goal and grounded the ball inside the dead ball line to put the Panthers back in front. A tough period of back and forth play followed the Crichton try, with the Panthers trying to extend their lead and the Tigers trying to take the lead back.
Tigers fullback Adam Doueihi broke the game open when he gathered a kick on his own try line and made a linebreak, running 70 metres before being brought down. In the Tigers attacking set, the game was halted when Luciano Leilua was hit high in a tackle. Leilua was down with a concussion for some time before eventually being guided off the field by the trainers. The Tigers were awarded a penalty and took the two points to level the scores at 12 all.
Stephen Crichton looked to have scored his third try, only to be overturned by an obstruction ruling by the video referee. While they didn’t get a try, the Panthers were able to grab the lead back five minutes later. Nathan Cleary nailing a field goal from right in front. In the next set, Api Koroisau made a linebreak and linked up with Dylan Edwards who raced away to extend the lead beyond a converted try.
The Tigers were denied the opportunity to get back in the game due to some ill-discipline from Joey Leilua. He was sin-binned when he put a high shot on Dylan Edwards without the ball. With the Tigers down a man, the Panthers closed out the game to secure a hard-fought 19-12 win.
The highlight of the game was the final 20 minutes, specifically the field goal and try from the Panthers to close out the win. The game was in the balance at 12 all and emotions were running high after Luciano Leilua was unintentionally hit high in a tackle. His brother Joey Leilua reacted with aggression for the remainder of the game, but it was misplaced. He gave away some costly penalties, including getting sin-binned for a cheap high shot on Dylan Edwards.
But the Panthers kept their cool, starting with their halfback Nathan Cleary stepping up and nailing a field goal. Once they got in front, they cemented the win with a try started from inside their own half to Dylan Edwards, proving they are serious contenders this season.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Oliver Clark 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Matt Eisenhuth Bench: 14. Elijah Taylor 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Sam McIntyre 17. Michael Chee-Kam
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 4. Stephen Crichton 19. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo Bench: 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Moses Leota 17. Billy Burns 21. Tyrone May