Andrew Pelechaty reviews the first game of the Friday night Suncorp Stadium double header: St George Illawarra v Penrith. Here’s how the game went.
Goals: Zac Lomax (21, 62).
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Matt Burton (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Brent Naden (Penrith Panthers)
1 pt – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
After a testing past few weeks, Penrith welcomed back Nathan Cleary for their Lang Park clash: could he help build some winning momentum heading to the finals and maybe help Penrith win another minor premiership?
As for the Dragons, their season was hanging by a thread following their loss to Canberra last weekend: another loss tonight would definitely end their tenuous finals hopes.
Penrith opened the scoring against the run of play: with the Dragons pushing towards the Panthers’ tryline, Brent Naden plucked an intercept and ran 90 metres untouched.
The Dragons hit back seven minutes later when Zac Lomax produced a fancy around-the-corner pass for Mikaele Ravalawa to score in the corner. Lomax converted to tie the game at 6-6.
Naden got another try in the 24th minute as Penrith quickly regained the lead.
Penrith made it three tries in 18 minutes when Dylan Edwards scored after Ravalawa dropped a bomb.
Ravalawa redeemed himself shortly before half-time with a last-ditch tackle to stop a diving Naden from scoring a hat-trick, ensuring the Dragons’ deficit was only 10 points going into the sheds.
HALF-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 6 Penrith Panthers 16Embed from Getty Images
Penrith put the game away early in the second half through two moments of magic from Matt Burton: the first was a break that led to Edwards’ second try, then he benefited from another Dragons error to score his own try: jinking, stepping, and mesmerising the Dragons’ defenders with a 15 metre run to the tryline. With Cleary converting both tries, Penrith had the game all but locked up at 28-6 with 25 minutes left.
The Dragons soon responded with a converted try to Jack Bird, but was it too late to save their season?
Penrith ensured there was no miracle Dragons comeback when Paul Momorovski scored with 12 minutes left as the Panthers spread the footy left to right. Cleary’s conversion pushed the lead out to 34-12.
There was a minor setback for Penrith when Viliame Kikau was sin-binned in the 75th minute. The Dragons quickly took advantage with a try to Talatau Amone.
FULL-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 16 Penrith Panthers 34
Billy Burns (Dragons) – failed HIA.
Andrew McCullough (Dragons) – ankle
Match Review Committee
Jarome Luai (Panthers) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Plea $1,700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2,250 fine.
Adam Clune (Dragons) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Plea $750 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1,150 fine.
Nathan Cleary (Panthers) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Plea $1,150 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1,500 fine.