By Michelle Boon
Penrith recorded a 22-14 victory over the Wests Tigers at Sportingbet Stadium on Saturday.
Panthers’ front rower Nathan Smith was first to score after 10 minutes, crossing out wide after halfback Isaac John sliced through the defence 35m out from the Tigers’ line before drawing the defence and finding Smith in support on the inside 15m out from the line. Centre Wes Naiqama converted to lead 6-0.
Nine minutes later Tigers’ winger Taqele Naiyaravaro levelled it up by charging through a massive gap close to the line off a scrum and scoring near the posts. Five eighth Jack Madden kicked the goal to make it 6-all.
Madden gave the Tigers the lead with 14 minutes to go in the half, slicing through a tiny gap close to the line and reaching out in traffic. He couldn’t convert but they were ahead 10-6.
Four minutes later Penrith fullback Will Smith crossed out wide after second rower Matt Robinson popped an amazing ball right on the tryline and Smith showed superb reflexes to grab the ball and plunge over. Naiqama’s conversion put them back in front 12-10 and this was the score at half time.
The second half was slow to take off as both teams struggled with the strengthening wind but Penrith were able to convert a mountain of possession in the Tigers’ 10m zone into points in the 17th minute with winger Kevin Naiqama finishing superbly in the right hand corner. Will Smith didn’t convert and the score was 16-10.
Six minutes later Will Smith notched his double going over in the left hand corner after regathering a bouncing mid-field bomb 30m out then setting off on a diagonal foot race to out sprint the cover defence. He converted to extend the lead to 22-10.
With eight minutes to go Tigers’ centre Setefano Taukafa scored in the right hand corner backing up on a run-around move with winger Marika Koroibete giving him a neat 15m scoot down the touchline. Madden wasn’t able to add the extras making the score 22-14.
The Panthers will have the bye this weekend while the Tigers head to Belmore to tackle the Bulldogs.
Penrith Panthers 22 (W Smith 2, K Naiqama, N Smith tries; W Naiqama 2, W Smith goals) def. Wests Tigers 14 (T Naiyaravoro, S Taukafa, J Hitchcox tries; J Madden goal) at Sportingbet Stadium.