The Penrith Panthers have missed a golden opportunity to secure two competition points as the never-say-die Warriors overcame a 22-6 deficit early in the second half, to come away from Pepper Stadium with a hard-earned 26-all draw at Pepper Stadium today.
A perfect 5 from 5 conversions from half, Mason Lino proved pivotal as the Warriors were outscored five tries to four, as a crucial miss from Dylan Edwards’ boot late in the game enabled the Warriors to draw level through a penalty goal two minutes from full-time.
Penrith certainly came in the game feeling confident about their chances as their side was bolstered by the inclusion of Te Maire Martin, Sione Katoa, Moses Leota and Viliame Kikau.
Conversely for the Warriors, Ken Maumolo was a late inclusion for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
The Panthers got off to a dream start when back-to-back penalties inside the Warriors 20 enabled Samisoni Langi to dive over from dummy half to score in the left corner to lead 4-0 after 11 minutes.
Off the back of a penalty the Warriors immediately hit back with their first try of the game in the 15th minute after Mason Lino and Tuimoala Lolohea combined to put Junior Pauga over in the right corner and with the successful conversion, led 6-4 lead.
But Te Maire Martin breaks the shackles with a show and go to burst through the line and score behind the posts to put Penrith back I font 10-6 after 35 minutes.
Penrith extended their lead in the very next set with a well worked try started and finished by Mitch Rein after Tyrone May and Jack Hetherington made inroads down the blindside before finding the hooker backing up inside to score and with Edwards’ conversion, the Panthers looked good for their 16-6 half-time lead.
Penrith shot out of the blocks early in the second half with an 85m try to fullback Dylan Edwards who regathered a loose kick from the Warriors to score underneath the posts to lead 22-6 after 44 minutes.
Having been outplayed for the last twenty minutes, the Warriors stormed back into the game in a big way with a double to interchange forward Toafofoa Sipley. Both tries, scored six minutes apart, were the result of simple one off the ruck plays close to the line, reducing the gap to just four points with 25 minutes remaining.
And with weight off possession now firmly favouring the Warriors, they remarkably hit the lead with 14 minutes remaining when centre Semisi Fotu was on the end of a sweeping play left to score out wide and with Mason Lino continuing his perfect afternoon with the boot with the conversion from near touch to put the away side back in front 24-22.
But the see-sawing nature of this game continued when Panthers regained the lead when Darren Nicholls laid on a terrific delayed pass at the line for Tyrone May to dive over for the try that put Penrith back in front 26-24.
The relatively easy conversion attempt missed by Edwards seemingly came back to haunt him when Penrith conceded a late penalty to enable Lino to kick the 30m penalty goal that would see the Warriors escape with a 26-all draw, their second draw of the season.
Penrith Panthers 26 (D Edwards, S Langi, T M Martin, M Rein, T May tries; D Edwards 3 goals) drew NZ Warriors 26 (T Sipley 2, F Pauga, S Fotu tries; G Lino 5 goals)