Penrith’s season is now on life support after Ivan Cleary’s old club took a gigantic step towards ending the Panthers’ 2019 campaign on Friday night.
The Wests Tigers pulled out all the tricks in the second match of Magic Round, exploiting a hapless Panthers outfit to rack up a 30-4 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
In what was the fastest opening in the club’s history, the Tigers steamrolled their opponents with five tries in the opening 18 minutes of the match to set up the win.
It was the two old boys directing traffic, with Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall – who returned from injury - combining with Luke Brooks to orchestrate the victory.
Match: Wests Tigers v Panthers
Round 9 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The match was also skipper Moses Mbye’s best game of the season, overcoming a horror match against the Roosters a week earlier to help his side to the two points.
The Tigers deserved the win the last time the two teams met back in round four, however the composure of Nathan Cleary ensured the Panthers would escape with the points in golden point.
But the under pressure NSW No.7 incumbent wasn’t able to pull a rabbit out of the hat in magic round.
The win takes the Tigers to five wins from nine games to start the year, temporarily moving into the top eight with two days still remaining on Magic Weekend in Brisbane.
On the other hand the loss sees Penrith languishing at the bottom of the ladder with just four points.
Wests Tigers fire with five tries in 17 minutes
If it hasn’t already, the loss will start to raise question marks over the future of a number of Panthers, many of whom are on lucrative long term deals.
The Panthers are winless in the post-Phil Gould era, as pressure mounts on Ivan Cleary to turn the tide in a season that was meant to see them challenging for a title, not battling to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Tigers opened the scoring courtesy of a well-executed play from Marshall and Brooks, providing for Mbye to cross untouched.
From the ensuing set Robbie Farah busted through some feeble Panthers defence, putting Brooks over for a try of his own to give his side an early 12-0 lead.
Then the awareness of Farah saw the Tigers exploit the Panthers shortside moments later, with Chris McQueen breaking into open space to put Esan Marsters over for a 16 point buffer after eight minutes.
Penrith get on the board through Whare
The onslaught didn’t stop there, with Benji Marshall kicking a 40-20 from inside his own 30, which paved the way for Corey Thompson to latch on to a Ryan Matterson cut-out pass for a 20-0 lead inside 11 minutes.
The battering didn’t stop there, with the Tigers making it five tries in 17 minutes when Brooks’ magical cut-out pass put Robert Jennings over in the corner for a 24-0 lead.
A penalty goal pushed the Tigers out to a 26-0 lead, but the Panthers answered back through Dean Whare, who gave Penrith something to work with when he dived over in the corner in the 29th minute.
After a flurry of four-pointers to open the match, the Tigers didn’t score another try until the 67th minute when Marsters ran off Brooks for his second try of the night to put an exclamation mark on the result.