Western Suburbs Magpies have made it back-to-back wins and cemented a return to the top two of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder with an 18-10 victory over the Penrith Panthers on Sunday morning at North Sydney Oval.
Boosted by a number of first-grade players, Hodgson's men were able to build on their defensive resilience from last week with a strong attacking performance against the plucky Panthers — scoring two tries just before the break to lead by eight at half-time before continuing on as such in the second half.
After a recent dip in form, the win sees the Magpies move back in to the top two of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder ahead of next week's home game against the Newtown Jets at Lidcombe Oval.
Western Suburbs got the match off to the perfect start when strong runs from Mahe Fonua and Luke Garner put the Panthers on the back foot, with Liam Coleman sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
The Magpies would take full advantage of their extra man, with a grubber from Tyson Gamble finding Watson Heleta in full flight, with the winger touching down for the opening points of the game.
Hodgson's men threatened to make it two tries in as many minutes when Tuimoala Lolohea released Lucas Price down the wing, but his pass was ruled forward with the try-line wide open for the winger.
That call would prove pivotal in the first half momentum, as Penrith began to work their way back in to the match with a string of penalties and possession eventually seeing them score through Jarome Luai.
With Coleman back on the field, the Panthers would take the lead for the first time of the day as a shift left narrowly beat Heleta with the intercept and allowed Caleb Aekins to stroll over out wide.
Adam Keighran was unable to convert, however, leaving the visitors lead at 10-6 after 25 minutes.
Wests would find their attacking groove soon after as another shift to the right found joy — this time Lolohea finding Heleta with a bullet pass before the winger showed great strength to evade three defenders and crash over in the corner. Lolohea's sideline conversion restored the Magpies lead by a slender two points, before sharp handling from Bayley Sironen put JJ Felise over right on the stroke of half-time.
Lolohea's third conversion of the day gave the Magpies an eight-point lead at the break.
Forced to defend their goal-line early in the second half, Penrith looked to turn defence in to attack when an intercept from Sam Smith broke the Magpies' momentum, but a terrific chase from Gamble and goal-line defensive stand ensured Western Suburbs eight-point lead remained in tact.
That defence continued to frustrate the Panthers throughout the second half as the visitors failed to take advantage of a number of attacking sets on the Magpies line. Just as they had done the week before against the Warriors, Western Suburbs refused to let the goal-line be breached despite an extremely high penalty count against them in the second half — turning Penrith away time and time again to remain in front.
The Panthers would finish the second half with over 10 sets inside the Magpies' 20m line, but were unable to find a way through as Western Suburbs held on to record back-to-back wins with an 18-10 victory.
Western Suburbs Magpies 18 (Heleta 2, Felise tries; Lolohea 3/3 goals) def. Penrith Panthers 10 (Luai, Aekins tries; Keighran 1/2 goals) at North Sydney Oval
FINAL TEAM LISTS
Western Suburbs Magpies — 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Lucas Price 3. Mahe Fonua 4. Toni Tali 5. Watson Heleta 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Pita Godinet 18. Tim Grant 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Sam McIntyre 12. Luke Garner 13. Patrice Siolo (INT: 8. JJ Felise 15. Cowen Epere 16. Braden Robson 17. Bayley Sironen)
Penrith Panthers — 17. Tyrone May 1. Caleb Aekins 3. Adam Keighran 16. Sam Smith 2. Maika Sivo 22. Jarome Luai 7. Liam Coleman 14. Kaide Ellis 9. Soni Luke 18. Nick Lui Toso 15. William Burns 23. Tom Eisenhuth 11. Liam Martin (INT: 8. Oliver Clark 10. Andy Saunders 12. Reed Izzard 21. Paea Pua)