By Stewart Moses
Penrith Panthers, on the back of a brilliant first half defensive effort, were able to put a halt to the Warriors’ winning ways with a comprehensive 36-8 win at a cold and blustery SportingBet Stadium.
The Warriors conceded a try against the run of play in the 29th minute when a Lolohea grubber was trapped by Bryce Cartwright who was able to regather and offload to Will Smith who scorched on a 60 metre run to the try line to open the scoring. Smith’s own conversion giving the Panthers an unlikely 6-0 lead but a reward for great defence nonetheless.
For the remainder of the half, the Warriors continued to take poor options when deep in attack and at halftime the Panthers against the odds led 6-0.
The Panthers took great confidence out of that first half performance in defence and soon doubled their lead when a Cartwright chip kick into space was brilliantly regathered by Will Smith before offloading to Attwood who, in turn, found Daniel Foster to dive over next to the posts.
A short kick off paid dividends for the Warriors as they were able to spread the play left on the last tackle creating the overlap for Jarrod Tua to score in the corner.
A Will Smith grubber and kick through into the in-goal was pounced upon by Liam Ayoub to score next to the left posts to extend the lead to 14 points and a try to Tom Eisenhuth in the 61st minute resulted from a quick shift left close to the Warriors try line with Bryce Cartwright and Will Smith again instrumental.
Will Smith’s difficult conversion giving the Panthers a commanding 24-4 lead.
A barging try to Warriors prop, Nathaniel Peteru with six minutes remaining gave some respectability to the Warriors score but two more converted tries scored by the Panthers in the remaining five minutes through Will Smith (his second for the afternoon) and Leilani Latu well and truly sealed the win.
This weekend the Panthers head north to tackle the Knights at Cessnock on Saturday while the Warriors return to New Zealand to host Mounties.
Penrith Panthers 36 (W Smith 2, L Ayoub, L Latu, T Eisenhuth, D Foster tries; W Smith 4, B Cartwright 2 goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 8 (N Peteru, J Tua tries) at Sportingbet Stadium.