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2022 NRL Round 15, Warriors 6 Panthers 40 – Report

Brad Inger reviews the Round 15 clash between the Warriors and the Panthers at Moreton Daily Stadium; here’s how the match went.

MATCHDAY RESULTS

SCOREBOARD

New Zealand Warriors 6
Tries: Josh Curran (75)
Goals: Reece Walsh (75)

Penrith Panthers 40
Tries: Moses Leota (14), Dylan Edwards (20), Taylan May (38), Brian To’o 2 (45, 79), Isaah Yeo (61), Liam Martin (64)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 5 (15, 21, 39, 62, 65), Stephen Crichton (80)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

A large and vocal crowd showed up for the Warrior’s final home game on Australian soil, the home side will want to end their three years away from their local fans on a high note, but it would be a massive task against the reigning premier Panthers.

The Warriors looked up to the challenge, completing their first two sets before earning another when Brian To’o dropped a Ronald Volkman bomb. The New Zealand side had a few runs at the Panther’s line but could not get through, Volkman put another kick through, but Penrith caught it in the in-goal.

The Panthers showed how dangerous their attack is, making easy work of the Warrior’s defensive structure and strolling the field’s length, but were unable to convert it into points.

After a few penalties against the Panthers, the Warriors were back in the visitor’s red zone, but they continued to struggle to break through the goal-line defence; a Shaun Johnson grubber did not bounce in their favour, going over the dead-ball line. Penrith once again surged up the field and looked to have scored in the corner via To’o; however, the bunker took the try away, deeming that Liam Martin had lost possession into Volkman when passing the ball.

Minutes later, the Panthers would not be denied; after some strong runs up the middle on the back of a six again call, Api Koroisau spied a hole in the Warrior’s defensive line and threw a short ball to Leota went over untouched for the first try of the night. During the drive, Adam Pompey suffered an injury and left the field.

Jesse Arthars kept his side in the fight with a big tackle on Viliame Kikau to force a knock-on; however, a few plays later, the Warriors handed the ball back after Jack Murchie threw a wayward pass to Dallin Watene-Zeleaniak.

After another error from the Warriors, the Panthers had a scrum inside the Warrior’s half. They showed great execution as Nathan Cleary shifted to the left before flicking and ball back on the inside for Dylan Edwards, who ran twenty metres to the try line with ease for the visitor’s second try, pushing their lead out to twelve after Cleary nailed the conversion.

The New Zealand side found themselves back in the Panthers ten metres but struggled with their finishing ability, with Bayley Sironen losing the ball as he crashed over the line. After another let-off, the Panthers were away down the field again. They looked to have scored again when Stephen Crichton offloaded the ball to To’o, who finished the play by diving in the corner. Still, Walsh did enough defensively to push the winger closer to the sideline, which worked as To’o touched the line before attempting to put the ball down.

The Warriors had several chances to get on the scoreboard in the final stages of the first half, earning repeat sets and regather short drop-outs, but the closest they got was when Walsh was held up after catching an inside ball from Volkman. They had another attempt when Johnson pushed a grubber through, but Josh Curran was beaten to it by Cleary; the Panthers attempted another short drop-out, and this time, they were successful, keeping the home side searching for their first points of the night.

The visitors were in the Warrior’s Half once again, and Cleary broke the line and looked sure to score but slipped over. The New Zealand side scrambled to stop Penrith, but they were not quick enough as the Panthers quickly shifted the ball out to the left edge for Taylan May to score in the dying seconds of the first half, seeing the visitors go into the sheds with an 18-0 lead.

HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 0 Penrith Panthers 18

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2nd Half

The Panthers wasted little time adding to their score tally, taking only five minutes to break Warriors fans’ hearts again. Playing simple draw and pass football when Crichton put To’o over untouched in the corner.

The Warrior’s lack of execution continued to haunt them; after a few promising runs, Johnson kicked early on the third tackle, but none of his teammates were chasing it, allowing the Panthers to clean it up easily.

The Panthers may have let the lead go to their heads a little as they started to make silly errors, one of these errors led to a brief bit of excitement for Warriors fans as Tohu Harris offloaded to Walsh, who darted through a hole in the defensive line and ran forty metres before losing the ball as he neared the Panthers try-line.

After absorbing several attacking sets from the home side, the Panthers got back into action with Isaah Yeo finishing off a strong set with a devastating run, breaking multiple tackles on the way to score his side’s fifth try on the night, displaying the excellent Panthers attack as well as the poor defensive effort from the Warriors.

Penrith continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded when Walsh dropped a kick defusal. Seeing the home side was on the ropes, the Panthers got back to work with Edwards throwing a short ball to Martin, who burrowed his way over the try-line.

To’o was almost over again after another break from Penrith, but the Warriors held on; the New Zealand side successfully regathered their short drop-out and got themselves into good field position when Chanel Harris-Tavita kicked a 40/20, playing for nothing but pride at this stage, the Warriors showed some excellent structure and finally managed to break through the Panthers wall when Walsh sent a short ball to Josh Curran to score.

An error from Dunamis Lui after scoring handed the ball back to the Panthers with time running out; the Warriors used their Captains Challenge but were unsuccessful. Penrith could not find a way forward, so Jarome Luai resorted to running sideways, skipping from left to right before spying an overlap and getting the ball to Crichton, who then showed his team first mentality, shifting out one more to To’o for the wingers second try of the night and the final play of this game.

A well-deserved win for Penrith but a disappointing loss for the Warriors, who will now be counting down the days until they can return to NZ soil.

FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 6 Penrith Panthers 40

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Panthers), 2 pts – Isaah Yeo (Panthers), 1 pt – Reece Walsh (Warriors)

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