Wests Tigers have been run-down by the Penrith Panthers in their Round 16 clash at Leichhardt Oval with the visitors using a second-half comeback to win 35-12.
Led by four second-half tries to winger David Simmons, Penrith were able to use their weight of possession and field position to run-down Wests Tigers’ 12-10 half-time lead and emerge with 23-point win in front of a 14,234 strong crowd at Leichhardt Oval.
Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak went closest to scoring early when he seemingly crossed the line on the 11-minute mark, but a further inspection upstairs from the video referee found that the Panthers fullback had knocked-on trying to ground the ball.
That defensive effort from Jason Taylor’s side would be rewarded soon after when a deft kick from Robbie Farah was chased hard by Luke Brooks into the in-goal. An attempted clearance from the visitors would fail to be effective, with Chris Lawrence on hand to plant the ball down before it crossed the dead-ball line for first points of the day.
Pat Richards added the extras to give his side a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes of play.
The home side were dealt a cruel blow moments later when Tim Simona was forced from the field with an ankle injury sustained trying to keep the ball in play.
With Kyle Lovett moving to the centres to cover for the star centre, Penrith were able to hit back in the 24th minute when Dean Whare found space down the right and offloaded to David Simmons, who found halfback Peter Wallace backing up on the inside.
Jamie Soward had no problems with the conversion and leveled the match at 6-6.
A controversial call, which appeared to be a knock-on by Watene-Zelezniak, gave the Panthers an important reprieve on the half-hour mark, and it would prove crucial as the visitors worked the ball up-field through a Wallace 40/20 into an attacking position.
That laid the platform for a strong attacking set that finished in the Panthers fullback finding Josh Mansour on the left edge for an acrobatic finish after 31 minutes.
Soward was unable to add the extras from out wide, however, leaving the score at 10-6.
Wests Tigers would take back the lead in the 35th minute when a deft kick from Brooks found Kevin Naiqama on the right wing, with the Fijian international reacting quickest to ground the ball in the in-goal against his old club. Despite being right in the corner, Richards had no problems with the extras to give Wests Tigers a 12-10 lead, which is how it would read as both teams went to the half-time sheds at Leichhardt Oval.
Penrith would start the second half the better of the two sides and would cross for points inside the opening 90 seconds, with Simmons touching down out wide.
Soward’s successful conversion gave the Panthers a 16-12 lead after 42 minutes.
Both teams were denied tries in quick succession shortly after by the video referee, before Penrith extended their lead in the 51st minute through Simmons again.
Soward was unable to add the extras, leaving the score at 20-12.
Simmons would cap off an incredible 20-minute spell when he completed his hat-trick in the 62nd minute after some strong build-up play from Whare once again, with Soward’s missed conversion leaving the score at 24-12 in favour of the visitors.
Wallace added a handy one-point in the 66th minute to take Penrith’s lead beyond two converted tries, before a late try to Watene-Zelezniak put the result beyond doubt despite Apisai Koroisau’s missed conversion leaving the score at 29-12.
A frantic last-tackle play after the siren saw Simmons cross for his fourth try under the posts, with the winger converting his own try to give the visitors a 35-12 victory.
Wests Tigers will look to pick up a crucial two points in Round 17 when they take on the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Monday night before their Round 18 bye.
NRL FULL TIME — Penrith Panthers 35 (Simmons 4, Wallace, Mansour tries: Soward 2/4 goals; Koroisau 0/1 goals, Simmons 1/1 goals; Wallace field goal) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Lawrence, Naiqama tries; Richards 2/2 goals).