By Emma Duxbury at Sportingbet Stadium
The Panthers continue to dominate the VB NSW Cup after beating the Cutters 28-22 at Sportingbet Stadium last weekend.
Despite some early mistakes and a sloppy finish, Penrith managed to hold the strong Illawarra side out to take home the two points.
The Panthers scored the first try in the second minute of the match when the Cutters mistimed a pass and the ball hit the deck, before Tom Humble scooped it up and took off down the field sprinting 60 metres before offloading to Waqa Blake who carried it over the line. Wes Naiqama converted to give the home side a 6-0 lead.
Illawarra hit back in the seventh minute when a grubber kick bounced off Tim Grant into some open space, and five-eighth Sam Duggan picked it up and ran over the line to score. The conversion was successful, levelling the scores at 6-all.
In the 19th minute, Blake went over for his second try after some quick passes from the centre of the field, Kieran Moss sent the ball wide to Blake who dragged a couple of defenders towards the line before stretching out his arm to get the ball right on the white stripe. Naiqama’s kick was waved away, so the score went to 10-6.
Five minutes later, Penrith were over again, thanks to some quick thinking from Tom Humble, who was given the ball a metre out from our line, and dived underneath four defenders to score. Naiqama’s kick went straight through the uprights, extending the Panthers lead to 16-6.
With five minutes until the half time break, Shaun Spence had to be helped from the field after copping a knock to the head.
Six minutes into the second half, Will Smith broke through the Cutters’ back line on halfway and sprinted 20 metres before passing to Kevin Kingston, who sent the ball left to Moss and he ran it over the line. Naiqama converted from in front giving the home side a handy 22-6 lead.
In the 54th minute, the Cutters went over for their second try of the day, after a chip kick bounced off a couple of players and into some open space about a metre out from their line, and Junior Tia Kilifi snatched it up and dived over the line. The kick was waved away, so the score went to 22-10.
The Cutters added another try in the 61st minute when big prop Rory O’Brien steamrolled his way through a tackle to score under the posts.
Three minutes later, Blake scored his third try after he was on the receiving end of a beautiful offload from Ben Murdoch-Masila on the 40 metre line, and sprinted past several defenders to score. The kick went straight through the posts, extending Penrith’s lead to 28-16.
But Illawarra wasn’t giving up without a fight and with eight minutes on the clock, they scored again when Shannan Wakeman put his head dead and stormed towards the line, making the most of some lazy defence to get him across the line.
This round the Panthers take on the Bears at North Sydney Oval on Sunday while the Cutters travel to Aubrey Keech to tackle Mounties.
Penrith Panthers 28 (W Blake 3, K Moss, T Humble tries; W Naiqama 4 goals) def. Illawarra Cutters 22 (S Wakeman, J Tia Kilifi, S Duggan, R O'Brien tries; S Duggan 3 goals) at Sportingbet Stadium.