Penrith, led by Jamie Soward, have put the competition’s best defensive side to the sword, defeating the Newtown Jets 60-6 to remain in touch with the top four with their fifth consecutive win.
Soward had a day to remember in his first appearance against the club he played for, when he was coming through the grades at the Sydney Roosters, having a hand in seven tries as well as having a perfect afternoon with the boot, kicking ten goals from as many attempts.
Not to be outdone, Panthers back-rower Corey Hawawira-Naera scored his first Intrust Super Premiership hat-trick in the win and with eight tries for the season to date, trails Malakai Watene-Zelezniak by one as Penrith’s top try-scorer in 2016.
Newtown, who already lost half Fa’amau Brown before the game paid a heavy price in the loss with the loss of Matt McIlwrick, Kurt Capewell, Josh Cleeland and Kenny Niko, that meant the Jets already trailing 42-6 at the time, had to play the final fifteen minutes with no replacements on the bench.
Penrith dominated possession in the opening fifteen minutes to lead the Jets 12-0 after tries to Harawira-Naera and Will Smith, both laid on by Soward as the Panthers relentlessly attacked inside Newtown’s 20m zone.
A well worked try against the run of play with an outside-inside play saw Mitch Brown streak into the clear before finding their best player for the afternoon, back-rower Anthony Moraitis, backing up to score, reducing the gap to six midway through the first half.
But the Panthers dominated the latter stages of the first half with converted tries to Harawira-Naera, Dylan Edwards and Zach Dockar-Clay to all but put the game beyond doubt, leading 30-6 at the break.
Edwards’ try in particular was one to saviour as the Junior Kangaroos fullback was put into the clear by Soward before he stepped and swerved the cover defence to score his maiden try at this level.
Any hopes of a Jets comeback were extinguished early in the second half when Harawira-Naera completed his hat-trick before fellow back-rower Kaide Ellis scored on debut, again off another Soward short pass that had the Jets defence at sixers and sevens, as Penrith surged ahead 42-6.
Jerry Key continued the try-scoring spree particularly for the Penrith forwards, when he latched onto a Soward grubber kick that took a vicious break right in the Jets in-goal to put the Panthers within reach of the magical fifty points mark with twenty minutes still remaining.
As the clock wound down, Dockar-Clay and Josh Hall took advantage of a tiring injury-ravaged Newtown defence, scoring converted tries to give Penrith a resounding 60-6 win that suddenly has the top four teams in the competition looking over their shoulders, as the Panthers continue their mid-season resurgence.
The Panthers will be looking for six wins in a row when they travel to Ringrose Park next Sunday to take on neighbours Wentworthville, while Newtown have the bye.