Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Friday night blockbuster between the Penrith Panthers (with their Origin stars back) and the Sydney Roosters. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Stephen Crichton (15), Brian To’o (23, 30), Isaah Yeo (47), Nathan Cleary (49), Charlie Staines (63).
Goals: Nathan Cleary (17, 25, 27 – pen, 32, 40 – pen, 48, 51).
Tries: Fletcher Baker (3), Adam Keighran (13).
Goals: Adam Keighran (5, 14).
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)
1 pt – Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
While Penrith welcomed back their Origin stars, the Roosters had a big out with Sam Walker’s omission causing a reshuffle: five-eighth Lachlan Lam moved to halfback, Joseph Manu moved to five-eighth, and Joseph Suaalii moved from the extended bench to centre. On a wet night in Penrith, could this late change hurt the Eastern Suburbs club, especially against a Penrith side keen to return to the top of the table and keep their undefeated record at Penrith Park (BlueBet Stadium) alive?
The reshuffle worked when Suaalii went aerial and tapped back a Manu cross-field kick, with Fletcher Baker scoring in the third minute. Adam Keighran converted to give the Roosters a 6-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for Easts to double up, with Keighran going over from dummy half. The Panthers – who were undefeated and invincible a month ago – were now up against it. Of course, the Roosters jumped out to an early lead in the corresponding qualifying final last year, so Penrith still had plenty of time to come back.
Their cause was helped when Manu knocked on from the kick-off, with Nathan Cleary soon threading a kick through for Stephen Crichton to score.
Like Austin Powers, Penrith slowly rediscovered their mojo, forcing a goal line drop-out as Cleary started to warm to the contest.
There was big blow for the Roosters with Siosiua Taukeiaho sin-binned after a high shot on Cleary, despite Cleary slipping over before being tackled. After Reece Robson’s controversial sin-binning in the earlier North Queensland vs Cronulla-Sutherland game, it showed that the refs were going to be stricter on head contact again, regardless of circumstance.
Penrith took advantage of the 13 vs 12 advantage immediately, with Brian To’o (after a try double in Origin the other week) scoring in the left corner. Cleary converted to tie the game at 12-12.
Penrith took the lead after 27 minutes with a simple penalty shot from Cleary.
Charlie Staines nearly scored Penrith’s third try, but it was pulled back for obstruction.
Penrith engineered a beautiful 70-metre try (while Thor couldn’t keep the rain away tonight, Penrith were still throwing it around like it was dry weather footy) after Lam didn’t find touch with the ensuing penalty kick. To’o was on the end of the Penrith machine, scoring again in the left corner. In 15 minutes, Penrith had turned a 12-0 deficit into a 20-12 lead.
Penrith got another kickable penalty with a Nat Butcher high shot on Cleary, though there was no sin-bin as it wasn’t forceful. Cleary kicked the goal to give Penrith a 22-12 half-time lead.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 22 Sydney Roosters 12Embed from Getty Images
The Roosters needed a fast start in the second half, but an error by Taukeiaho gave Penrith an early opportunity, but they couldn’t make the most of it.
Penrith soon extended their lead to 34-12 in the blink of an eye when Isaah Yeo scored, followed by a Cleary try two minutes late as Cleary chased and regathered his own fifth-tackle kick.
Staines extended the Roosters’ pain (his 17th try in 17 games), retrieving a long bounce pass from Cleary and scoring in the right corner.
There was no more points in the final 17 minutes as the game fizzled out; Penrith had done more than enough, scoring 38 straight points in 50 minutes, while the Roosters were well beaten.
After two losses minus their Origin stars, this win puts Penrith back in first place, at least for 24 hours. As for the Roosters, they stay in fifth, but will slip four points behind Parramatta assuming that the Eels beat Canterbury-Bankstown.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 38 Sydney Roosters 12
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Siosiua Taukeiaho (Roosters) – Grade 1 Careless High Tackle – Early Guilty Plea $1,700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2,250 fine.