Wentworthville have turned in a dominant performance to easily account for a Penrith side hampered by several late changes, 30-14 at Pepper Stadium.
Led by classy halfback Luke Kelly, who was playing behind a forward pack full of NRL experience, the Magpies outscored Penrith six tries to three to remain undefeated after three rounds.
Penrith were hit hard by late changes with Te Maire Martin, Leilani Latu and James Fisher-Harris all late withdrawals, with debuts given to two players, Paea Pua and Marli Sini along with several positional changes.
In contrast, Wentworthville made just the one change with Ryan Morgan coming onto the bench for Sam Gorman.
Penrith started the game poorly, dropping the ball early in the tackle count which allowed Wentworthville to score in the 10th minute through Honeti Tuha after the Magpies ran a short blind-side play on the last tackle with former Panther Kieran Moss laying on the final pass.
Cornish’s conversion from the left touchline gave the Magpies a 6-0 lead.
The Magpies continued to dominate possession but were unable to increase their lead thanks to some desperate Penrith defence.
Penrith hit back in the 22nd minute when former Eel, Zach Dockar-Clay took play right and his long cut-out pass to Corey Harawira-Naera enabled the centre to produce a reverse inside flick pass to winger, Maliko Filino who juggled it before diving over in the corner to reduce the gap to two points.
Play was stopped minutes later when former Panther Kieran Moss was stretchered from the field after attempting to tackle Sitaleki Akauola.
Penrith took the lead for the only time in the game when a scrum win deep inside Wentworthville’s half allowed Dockar-Clay and Sam Clune to combine and put Harawira-Naera in to score untouched and with Josh Hall’s conversion, the Panthers led 10-6 after 32 minutes.
But somewhat against the run of play, Wentworthville regained the lead for good on the stroke of halftime.
Attacking deep in Penrith’s half, Luke Kelly’s two man cut-out pass found Hall out of position in defence, allowing his opposite winger, Bureta Fariamo to take advantage of the extra space to score in the right corner and with the conversion from touch, Wentworthville led 12-10 at half-time.
But in the second half it was all Wentworthville, outscoring Penrith four tries to one.
Repeat sets early in the second half was the catalyst for Wentworthville to open the game up with consecutive unconverted tries to Ryan Morgan and Tuha (his second of the match), both scored down Penrith’s right edge defence, which pushed the Magpies’ lead out to 20-10.
Penrith had a chance to get back into the game midway through the second half when Tupou Sopoaga put Chris Smith into some space but the rangy back-rower lost the ball just as he looked set to score.
Wentworthville regained their composure to score another two tries through Kelepi Tanginoa and James Hasson to put the game beyond Penrith’s reach, leading 30-10 with ten minutes remaining.
Maliko Filino’s second try of the game in the dying minutes added some respectability to the score but after three rounds, Wentworthville remain undefeated with their 30-14 win.
Next Sunday afternoon, Wentworthville return home to take on the defending premiers, Newcastle at Ringrose Park while the Panthers will need to regroup before taking on an in-form Illawarra Cutters at WIN Stadium, also next Sunday.
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