ResultEmbed from Getty Images
The tension was palpable as the Panthers hosted the Cowboys in Penrith. The minor premiership on the line for the Panthers, and a finals birth on the line for the Cowboys. After an early exchange of sets, it was the Panthers who drew first blood. Off the back of a break from Sunia Turuva, Stephen Crichton crossed for the first try when he exposed an overlap in the corner.
When the Panthers got their next chance, it was Stephen Crichton creating points again. Off a Nathan Cleary kick, Crichton flew above the pack AFL-style to bat the ball back, and Sunia Turuva dived over in the corner for the Panthers second try. This was the turning point for the Panthers, who backed up the Turuva try with a try to Liam Martin. He powered his way over off a short ball from Jack Cogger to put the Panthers up 16-0.
The Panthers added two more tries to their tally when Brian To’o and Luke Sommerton scored, extending the lead to 26 at the break.
After halftime, the Cowboys found life as they started chancing their arm. An early repeat set gave them an opportunity, and Griffin Neame barged over for a try under the posts. Four minutes later, they had their second try. Zac Laybutt found some space and wrongfooted Dylan Edwards to score a long range try, reeling the margin back to 14 points. Shellshocked by the fast start from the Cowboys, the Panthers needed to adjust.
Eventually, they steadied themselves when Sunia Turuva tip-toed the sideline and burrowed his way over for his second try. That was the straw that broke the Cowboys back. The following set saw Reece Robson commit a professional foul when he held back Dylan Edwards on a kick chase. Robson was sin binned, and as a result Nathan Cleary scored a try of his own.
Still with the man advantage, Brian To’o added his second try of the night to get the party started in Penrith. With the win, the Panthers secured the minor premiership and eliminated the Cowboys from finals contention.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 – Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers)
2 – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
1 – Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers)