After keeping the Dragons pointless last weekend the New Zealand Warriors, all Australians second team, had a tough game against the Penrith Panthers to navigate. The Panthers had a nail-biting draw against the Newcastle Knights last weekend and knew that a win today would lift them from fourth spot to the top of the table.
The teams last met in Round 15 in late June last year when the Panthers won by a golden point, but despite being narrow favourites to continue their unbeaten start to the season there was very little to choose between the two sides in the odds.
Two evenly matched sides battled out a high-speed opening twelve minutes until the Panthers opened the scoring after a high kick was knocked backwards by Stephen Crichton and picked up by Matt Burton to step past the last tackler and ground. Crichton added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
On twenty-three Burton got his second when he collected a bouncing ball on the Warriors forty and sprinted down the left wing to dive over in the corner. Crichton was unable to convert from the touchline, the Panthers having the lion share of the possession.
A towering high Burton kick was knocked-on by Patrick Herbert for the Warriors defence on thirty-six and two plays later a kick and collect grubber from Jarome Luai saw the half-back ground for the third try of the night. Burton added the conversion for a 16-0 lead, the Warriors not at the races.
Fast hands, and some ordinary defence, saw the ball moved from right to left with Josh Mansour being on hand to exploit a large gap down the wing to dive over in the corner. Crichton couldn’t convert from the touchline.
Just after the hour Billy Burns broke the Warriors line off a Burton short pass to step past the last defender for a try. This time Burton added the extras for a 26-0 lead, the Warriors a pale imitation of the side which dominated their game in round three.
A thoroughly professional performance from the Penrith Panthers who silenced a Warriors side who had themselves dominated their game in round three. With one spectacular exception, which the video referee ruled out, they kept the Warriors at bay for the full eighty. Penrith jump to the top of the table ahead of the rest of the weekends programme, a well deserved elevation.
Penrith Panthers: Aekins, Mansour (T), Whare, Crichton (2G), To’o, Burton (3T), Luai (T), Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Capewell, Yeo. Subs: Kenny, Tetevano, Leota, Burns (T).
New Zealand Warriors: Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert, Perham, Beale, Pompey, Nikorima, Green, Egan, Taunoa-Brown, Blair, Katoa, Harris. Subs: Lawton, Vuniyayawa, Faamausili, Murchie.
Referee: Matt Cecchin.
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium, New South Wales.