The Penrith Panthers have won a golden point thriller against the Wests Tigers, with Nathan Cleary kicking the home side to a 9-8 victory at Panthers Stadium.
The first 20 minutes of this game were an arm wrestle, with neither side able to gain the upper hand in the contest. Penrith winger Josh Mansour went over in the corner early only for the try to be overturned by the video referee. The first points were scored shortly after this by Penrith when Nathan Cleary converted a penalty goal from right in front to give the home side the lead. The Tigers had a chance to return the favour a few minutes later, but the penalty goal was missed by Esan Marsters.
The Tigers were gifted some good field position and were able to score the first try of the game, when Josh Reynolds executed a perfectly weighted grubber for Corey Thompson to ground the ball just inside the dead ball line. The Panthers were able to hold off an attacking barrage from the Tigers, and went close to scoring a try of their own but fell just short to go into the break with the score at 4-2.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, but this time the Tigers were able to capitalise on their early opportunities. Josh Reynolds again put through a good kick for Ryan Matterson to score and extend the lead to 8-2. The Panthers tried to answer back for the next ten minutes but were not able to get past the tough Tigers defense. The game dissolved into an error-a-thon for the remainder of the half, with both teams succumbing to the slippery conditions. Just as it looked like the game was over, the Panthers put the ball through the hands and Dylan Edwards scored in the corner to give Nathan Cleary at shot at putting the game into golden point.
The young Penrith halfback stood up to the pressure and delivered to tie the game up a 8-8 after the full-time siren by landing the perfect sideline conversion. He wasn’t done tormenting the Tigers yet, as he stood up in golden point and snapped a game winning field goal from 40 metres out to secure a huge 9-8 comeback win for the home side.
Clutch Cleary’s golden boot
Although the Panthers were very poor for most of the night, they were able to stay within a converted try of the Tigers, and that’s all that was needed for Nathan Cleary. Firstly he made a high pressure sideline conversion to send the game into golden point. Then he took the first opportunity he was given to win the game when he nailed a field goal from 40 metres out to hand the Panthers an extremely unlikely win.
Marsters goes missing
Usually a sharpshooter with the boot, Tigers centre Esan Marsters missed all three goals he had a chance to kick throughout this game. Had he made just one of these conversions the Tigers may have been able to hold on to get a win. Their defense was certainly good enough, and the Panthers didn’t look like they were going to score many points, so Marsters and the Tigers will be left thinking about what could have been as they prepare for the Broncos next week.
The return of Reynolds revs up Tigers
Josh Reynolds was arguably the best player on the field for the majority of the game. He made a triumphant return to first grade football and hardly looked out of place, setting up the first try of the game with a perfectly weighted kick into the in-goal. He followed this up with a very similar kick later in the game to set up another try. The fact he has come back into the top grade in some good form leaves coach Michael Maguire with a bit of a headache when Benji Marshall returns to full fitness.
Panthers Stadium can’t lift poor Penrith
The Panthers fans would have been looking forward to seeing their team return to Panthers Stadium for the first time this year. Unfortunately the strong home crowd in Penrith was not able to do much to turn the Panthers form around. They were full of errors all night and couldn’t manage to score a try until the final minute. They are now lucky to sit at two wins from four games to start the year, and without some brilliance from Nathan Cleary they would be looking at another loss.
Penrith Panthers 9
Goals: Cleary 2/2
Drop Goals: Cleary 1/1
Wests Tigers 8
Tries: Thompson, Matterson
Goals: Marsters 0/3
Drop Goals: Brooks 0/2, Reynolds 0/1
Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Dean Whare, 4 Waqa Blake, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Sione Katoa, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gilalrd, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 James Fisher-Harris 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Frank Winterstein, 16 Moses Leota, 17 Hame Sele
Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Mahe Fonua, 3 Robert Jennings, 4 Esan Marsters, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Ben Matulino, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Alex Twal, 11 Ryan Matterson, 12 Luke Garner, 13 Elijah Taylor 14 Russell Packer, 16 Josh Aloiai, 17 Michael Chee-Kam, 19 Matthew Eisenhuth