Lachlan Jeffery reviews a tight western Sydney derby with the understrength Panthers beating the Wests Tigers.
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Despite resting seven regular first graders, the Penrith Panthers have claimed an 18-16 win over the Wests Tigers at Commbank Stadium in the inaugural Royce Simmons Cup.
The Panthers were led by a huge performance up front from James Fisher-Harris in his 150th match, who ultimately scored the match-winning try.
The Panthers looked like scoring in the opening set of the game when Viliame Kikau made a break down the left-hand side, however Jackson Hastings intercepted his inside pass with support lining up.
The Tigers had to do a lot of defence down their own end in the opening ten minutes, however they were rewarded on their first trip down the other end as Adam Doueihi, Jackson Hastings and Luke Brooks combined with Asu Kepaoa to set up Junior Tupou in the left-hand corner.
The Panthers continued to attack afterwards and finally broke through in the 18th minute as they shifted left for Izack Tago to score in the corner, with Kurt Falls converting from touch.
They added a second try minutes later when Kikau collected the bouncing ball after he toed ahead a Sean O’Sullivan grubber to score under the posts.
With three minutes remaining in the half, a Penrith error gave Wests a scrum on the 10m line, with Doueihi scoring straight after.
They thought they had taken the lead on the next play when Tupou crossed after Robert Jennings dropped a Doueihi bomb, however the try was overturned on review after the kick-chase was found to be offside.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half was marred by constant errors as both sides failed to put themselves into a dominant position in the match.
The Tigers crossed in the 63rd minute, however an obstruction on the inside cost Tupou again.
The Tigers finally scored when Ken Maumalo fielded a kick from Hastings and spun over the line despite the attention of three Penrith defenders. Doueihi converted to put the Tigers 16-12 in front with only ten minutes remaining.
That fired the Panthers up and Kenny sent Fisher-Harris through a huge gap on the Tigers try line to score the go-ahead try with six minutes left.
With time rapidly ticking away, the Tigers bizarrely opted for a set of hit-ups, earning a penalty to get them to halfway. Brooks attempt at a two-point field goal on the siren fell just short, as the Panthers held on for the two-point win.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – James Fisher-Harris (Penrith), 2 pts – Jackson Hastings (Wests Tigers), 1 pt – Viliame Kikau (Penrith)
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