Penrith have put in a dominant performance to run out convincing winners 42-10 over a North Sydney side that struggled to cope with the heat at Pepper Stadium.
A powerhouse performance from Penrith’s pack led by Leilani Latu, Moses Leota and Andy Saunders enabled the likes of Will Smith, Te Maire Martin, Sam Clune and Zach Dockar Clay to take control in a game where the Panthers scored seven tries to two.
Penrith’s line up had a vastly different feel to it with the big inclusions of Smith, James Fisher-Harris and Latu coming back into the side while North Sydney Bears were weakened with the late withdrawal of experienced centre, Dane Nielsen.
Early errors and ill-discipline from the Bears enabled the Panthers to score with Sam Clune instrumental, scoring the first and setting up Malakai Watene-Zelezniak for his try to give Penrith a 10-0 lead in even time.
As hard as the Bears tried, they weren’t able to penetrate the Penrith defensive line despite enjoying the better of possession midway through the half.
Penrith made North Sydney pay with Sam Clune’s second try with 13 minutes remaining to half time after some strong lead up work from centre, Corey Harawira-Naera and back-rower Tupou Sopoaga.
A barnstorming 35m try to prop Andy Saunders laid on by hooker and captain, Zach Dockar-Clay and a Josh Hall penalty after the siren saw Penrith go into half-time in a commanding position leading 24-0.
Penrith started the same way they did in the first when Saunders barged over from close range to score his second try before North Sydney with some possession finally going their way, scored back to back tries with a double to winger Bernard Gregorius midway through the second half to trail 30-10.
However the Panthers regained their composure to score two late tries through Leilani Latu and Will Smith against a tiring Bears defensive line playing in mid-30 degree heat to run out comfortable winners 42-10.
AFL convert Josh Hall had a day out with the boot scoring seven goals from eight attempts before he was sin-binned late in the game for a professional foul.
The Panthers now play Wentworthville next Saturday at Pepper Stadium while North Sydney are away to Illawarra Cutters.
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