Match Report: NSW Cup Round 17
NSW Cup competition leaders Penrith Panthers have extended their winning streak with a dominant 40-20 victory over Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon.
The loss sees Wests Tigers remain inside the top four but now with back-to-back losses under their belt, and will have plenty of questions asked about their defence this week following a lackluster first-half performance.
It was the hosts who posted first points of the morning through winger Corey Brown — reacting quickest to an error from Panthers fullback Luke Capewell to plant the ball down under the posts in the 11th minute.
Dayne Craig added the simple conversion from in front for an early 6-0 lead.
The Panthers soon hit back, though, through former Wests Tigers player Ben Murdoch-Masila, who beat one before accelerating to the line out wide.
Wes Naiqama added the extras to level the score after 18 minutes.
Naiqama then pushed the visitors in front after 21 minutes as he reacted quickest to a grubber from Liam Ayoub — converting his own try from near the posts to push the visitors in front by a scoreline of 12-6.
A darting run from Luke Capewell saw the halfback break the defence, and it quickly turned into points for the visitors. Will Smith loomed up on the inside and received a good short ball from Capewell to score close to the posts and allow Naiqama to push the lead to 12 points after 32 minutes.
A bizarre decision following a chargedown from Penrith yet the tackle count remaining last saw the Panthers get great field position just before half-time, and they soon inflicted further pain as Smith grabbed his second under the posts.
Naiqama duly added the extras for a 24-6 lead after 35 minutes.
There was more hurt to come before the half-time interval as Tom Eisenhuth grabbed a controversial try in the 39th minute following an offload from Sitaleki Akauola, who was then held back as he went to chase the winger.
Naiqama made no mistake to give the competition leaders a commanding 30-6 lead over Wests Tigers at the half-time interval.
The visitors picked up where they left off shortly after half-time, with Eisenhuth grabbing his second try of the afternoon in the 45th minute out wide.
Naiqama missed his first conversion of the day to leave the score at 34-6.
It was turning into a largely frustrating day for the hosts, but they started to find some joy as Inno Inosesio crossed under the posts after a well-timed run and ball from Michael Stevens. The halfback added the extras from in front to reduce the scoreline to 34-12 with just over 17 minutes remaining in the match.
Sonny Bristow turned on the skills to grab his first try of the competition shortly after, with a lovely show-and-go from the back-rower seeing him crash over in the corner with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Stevens couldn’t convert from the sideline, and the score remained 34-16.
Wests Tigers continued to mount a late comeback, and crossed the line again in the 71st minute as Brenden Santi barged over out wide.
Stevens again couldn’t add the extras to leave the score at 34-20.
However, the comeback stopped when Eisenhuth grabbed his third try of the afternoon and sealed the result for the Penrith Panthers, with Naiqama’s sideline conversion seeing the scoreline read 40-20 as the full-time siren sounded.
Final: Penrith Panthers 40 def. Wests Tigers 20