The New Zealand Warriors have consolidated their position inside the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top eight with an effortless 32-16 win over Penrith at Pepper Stadium.
Mason Lino, called into the side as a last-minute replacement for Jeff Robson, was the architect behind the Warriors win, scoring one clever try and setting up a few more with his deft kicking game close to the line as well as accumulating 12 points with a try and four goals.
Penrith, with the late inclusion of centre Waqa Blake, looked like they had scored first early in the game through Josh Hall only to have Will Smith’s floating pass ruled forward by referee Philip Henderson.
But Hall wasn’t to be denied just a few minutes later when Smith’s cross field kick enabled the winger to use his superior aerial skills to score in the left corner to give Penrith an early 4-0 lead.
The Panthers could have easily had try number three on the board inside the opening ten minutes but a try to Waqa Blake was disallowed after the play was called back for an obstruction.
The let-offs sparked the Warriors into life and they soon levelled the scores in the 12th minute when a calamity of errors between the Panthers winger and fullback in defusing a Warriors bomb, enabled centre Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to snatch possession and crash over out wide.
The Warriors withstood further pressure from Penrith before they took a 10-4 lead after 23 minutes when Ligi Sao crashed through some soft tryline defence to score. That lead would be maintained through to half-time as the game descended into an error-riddled contest.
The early exchanges in the second half saw both sides score a try each with Toafofoa Sipley’s 47th minute effort cancelled almost immediately by a try to Penrith centre Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, who finished off a slick backline movement to score.
But from there it was all the Warriors who scored three unanswered tries to put the game out of Penrith’s reach.
The Warriors scored the first of those three tries midway through the second half when Lino scored a smart individual try, regathering his own grubber kick to score.
They were soon in again when a quick shift right ended with James Bell storming through the line to score out wide and from the next set another Warriors grubber kick close to the tryline was seized upon by Semisi Tyrell to score out wide, putting the game out of Penrith’s grasps with a commanding 32-10 lead with twelve minutes remaining.
A late converted try to Will Smith puts some respectability back into the score line with five minutes remaining but the Warriors were far too good winning 32-16.
The third loss in succession for Penrith sees the 2014 premiers continue to contemplate life outside the top eight in 2016, while the Warriors go from strength to strength as they consolidate their top-eight position.
Next Friday, Penrith will need to regroup against an equally desperate Canterbury at Belmore Sports Ground while the Warriors will return home to take on Manly next Sunday at Mt Smart Stadium No. 2.
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