2023 NRL Round 14: Panthers 26, Dragons 18

Penrith Panthers overcame the mid-game loss of general Nathan Cleary and finished the game off strongest to edge past a resilient St George-Illawarra at Bluebet Stadium.

Result

Penrith Panthers 26
Tries: (4) Brian To’o 10th, 39th; Sunia Turuva 59th; Moses Leota 70th
Goals: (5) Nathan Cleary 12th;, Stephen Crichton 40th, 44th, 71st, 79th

St George Illawarra Dragons 18
Tries: (3) Mikaele Ravalawa 14th, 36th; Zac Lomax 65th
Goals: (3) Zac Lomax 7th, 20th, 66th

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The Penrith Panthers hosted the St George Illawarra Dragons with six State Of Origin players backing up from a brutal loss at the hands of the Queensland Maroons just four days prior.

It was the visiting Dragons who got on the scoreboard first through a soft obstruction penalty just seven minutes into the contest. Their lead wouldn’t last long however, as Brian To’o made amends for his penalty error and coasted over in the corner.

The Dragons battled back almost immediately: swift hands put Mikaele Ravalawa over in the right hand corner but Zac Lomax couldn’t take the lead with the ensuing conversion and the scores were tied at 6-6. The two sides traded sets for the majority of the next 20 minutes – with only a Lomax penalty goal on the 20th minute separating the teams before Ravalawa produced an excellent finish tight to the touchline to extend his side’s lead to 12-6 after Lomax failed to convert again.

Nathan Cleary fell foul of a hamstring injury during the half and his replacement Jack Cogger made sure those wouldn’t be the last points of the half, producing an inch perfect kick for To’o to catch on the full and slide over in the corner. Stephen Crichton took over kicking duties from the tee and levelled the scores from the touchline to go into half-time at 12-a-piece.

The second half saw yet more pragmatism with Penrith taking an early penalty goal through Crichton. After which, Penrith backed up the points with Sunia Turuva pouncing on a well-weighted kick from Izack Tago to score and put his side 18-12 in the lead.

Soon after, the game was stopped with what looked like a serious injury to Jack De Belin – who had to be stretchered off. The Dragons resumed going the better of the two sides and capitalised when Lomax out-jumped a pair of Panthers to take a high ball and fall over the line for a try. He then converted the relatively easy conversion to level the game up once more.

The Panthers soon ratcheted up the pressure on the visitors in the final 10 minutes, and Isiah Yeo eventually broke the tired Dragons defence with a great offload to Moses Leota, who crashed over to the right of the posts. Crichton converted to make the game 24-18 before a desperate short drop-out from the visitors gifted the Panthers a kickable penalty with time running out to make the final score 26-18.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Brian To’o (Panthers)
2 – Dylan Edwards (Panthers)
1 – Mikaele Ravalawa (Dragons)

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