Lachy MacCorquodale reviews the Friday night clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers. Here’s how the game went.
|3rd||Try Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 4-0|
|10th||Try Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 8-0|
|12th||Conversion Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 10-0|
|13th||Try Josh Mansour (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 14-0|
|33rd||Try Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 18-0|
|33rd||Conversion Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 20-0|
|44th||Try Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 24-0|
|45th||Conversion Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 26-0|
|61st||Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland)||Penrith 26-4|
|62nd||Conversion Valentine Holmes (North Queensland)||Penrith 26-6|
|66th||Try Brent Naden (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 30-6|
|68th||Conversion Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)||Penrith 32-6|
|69th||Try Kyle Feldt (North Queensland)||Penrith 32-10|
|70th||Conversion Valentine Holmes (North Queensland)||Penrith 32-12|
Penrith arrived in Townsville with one mission on their mind, to secure the minor premiership and they showed this intent from the get-go.
Three minutes had elapsed before the competition leaders took the lead after Brian To’o dived onto a Dylan Edwards grubber in the right hand corner.
Just seven minutes later, Penrith struck once again. This time it was barnstorming run from back rower Viliame Kikau, who broke through some poor defence before passing inside him to Stephen Crichton who scored untouched for his 15th try of the season.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse for the Cowboys, Valentine Holmes put too much on the kick-off wish saw Jarome Luai catch it over the sideline.
Penrith were rewarded with great field position and made the most of it after Josh Mansour dived on a Luai grubber, luckily for the Cowboys who otherwise would’ve seen Kyle Feldt sent to the bin after he prevented Crichton from making an attempt at scoring the try.
The Cowboys managed to get a few sets in the Panther’s twenty during the final twenty minutes of the first half, but failed to capitalise on these opportunities.
Penrith are playing with up the utmost confidence after pulling off a short goal line dropout. In the very same set marched down the field and scored after a spectacular catch from Crichton off a Luai kick, who received the return offload from Crichton as he extended the score to 20 points.
A tough first-half to take for the Cowboys and their fans, but quite the opposite for their opponents who are showing everyone why they’re the competition leaders.
The Penrith Panthers picked up where they left off, after a bomb from Nathan Cleary five minutes into the half was caught and by Kikau who proceeded to score with the Cowboys defenders failing to wrap up the big second-rower.
Penrith settled down and just went set for set with the Cowboys, and it looked certain that the home side had capitalised on this after Reuben Cotter went over for a try, only for the video referee to deny it.
Just a few minutes later, Cowboys fans were given something to cheer about after a disallowed Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow try was overturned by a captain’s challenge to put their first points on the board.
Penrith fired back almost immediately due an offload from Crichton received by Nathan Cleary which sent him flying down the sideline. Cleary drew Valentine Holmes and passed it inside him to Brent Naden to extend the Panthers lead.
The Cowboys weren’t going to give up yet and responded with a nice shift on the right edge which saw Kyle Feldt score in the corner thanks to a big cut out ball from Scott Drinkwater.
Despite the late tries from the Cowboys, it had little effect on the result as the Panthers secured their third minor premiership in the club’s history.
It was a massive performance from Viliame Kikau who absolutely tore up the the Cowboys defence in the opening half. The back rower accumulated 180 run metres from just 15 runs, which included two line breaks. Kikau also broke a total of nine tackles and was a handful for his opposite men.
Kikau also scored a try and provided a try to complete an outstanding performance from the 25-year-old Fijian.
It was a clinical performance from the Panthers despite conceding a few tries late on in the game.
Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton also had superb nights, following their form over the past two weeks. Both Luai and Crichton scored a try and set up one as the Panthers extended their win streak to 14.
North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Murray Taulagi 4. Daejarn Asi 5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Corey Jensen 9. Reuben Cotter 10. Jordan McLean 12. Mitchell Dunn 16. Tom Gilbert 13. Francis Molo. Interchange: 11. Gavin Cooper 15. Emry Pere 17. Ben Condon 18. Jason Taumalolo
Penrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brent Naden 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Jack Hetherington