The Penrith Panthers have sealed their place in Week 3 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Finals series with a convincing 36 points to 20 win over the fancied NZ Warriors outfit, in the second of two Qualifying Finals across the weekend.
Heading into the battle of two-plays-three on the back of a 30-point drubbing of the Wentworthville Magpies in Round 25, the Panthers showed no signs of slowing their scoring down, crossing for a pair of tries inside the match’s opening six minutes.
Experienced outside back Tony Satini got the Panthers on their way in the first minute of play, strolling through the would-be Warriors tacklers to cross for the opener.
Prolific try-scorer Maiko Sivo followed suit, with halfback Darren Nicholls making amends for his earlier miss on goal with a successful conversion attempt at the second time of asking.
Down by 10 points early, the travelling ‘hosts’ rallied to score their first four-pointer through rangy outside back Matt Allwood, before nippy pivot Sam Cook sliced through to draw the Warriors back to within two points.
Wayward shots on goal from the kicking tee ensured the Warriors took no lead though drawing to two-tries-apiece, as the Panthers steadied their ship to again set their sights on finding the front.
Back-to-back tries to Christian Crichton (33rd minute) and Tony Satini (39th minute) before the half-time siren ensured the Panthers took a healthy 12-point lead into the sheds – and despite some mild Warriors resistance – set the tone for much of the play of the second period.
Jed Cartwright’s try just two minutes after the resumption of play maintained Penrith’s momentum at the change of ends, as the tough-to-tackle outside back somehow found his way to the line.
A runaway four-pointer to the Warriors’ Zac Santo gave some hope to the New Zealand side in their quest to turn around the deficit, though their efforts proved in vain as the Panthers again stamped their authority.
A light-stepping run from Penrith’s five-eighth Jarome Luai saw the nippy half go in for the side’s sixth try, with Nicholls slotting his third conversion of the afternoon from the ensuing shot on goal.
Just as Satini bagged his brace inside the first-half, Luai brought up his double as he streaked away to score untouched – though not without thanks to his outside man in Satini who turned provider.
To their credit, the Warriors played through until the final moments of the match, crossing for a late consolation try to Ligi Sao to bring the concluding margin back to 16.
The Panthers join the Wyong Roos with a direct ticket through to the Preliminary Finals, after the Minor Premiers accounted for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 34-26 on Saturday (2 September) at Allianz Stadium.
The Warriors meanwhile will take on the Newcastle Knights after the Novocastrians advanced through to Week 2 of the Finals on the back of their big 40-18 win over the North Sydney Bears.
Penrith Panthers 36 (T Satini 2, J Luai 2, M Sivo, C Crichton, J Cartwright tries; D Nicholls 3 goals) def. NZ Warriors 20 (M Allwood, S Cook, Z Santo, L Sao tries; J Pauga 2 goals)