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The Penrith Panthers could already lay claim to being the best second-tier Rugby League side in Australia, but they’re now officially the best in the Pacific, having demolished the PNG Hunters 42-18 in the Intrust Super State Championship.

It was all Penrith from kick-off and the Hunters never looked a realistic chance on the day, trailing 38-2 at half-time at ANZ Stadium. Following the game, captain Darren Nicholls explained that the side’s best performance of the season had been a long time in the making.

“It was just outstanding efforts across the field, we just performed on the day,” Nicholls told “We came in at half-time, I think we were around 80 per cent (completions), something we’ve been gunning for all year, and on the big dance we performed.

“’Brenno’ (coach Garth Brennan) always said it was going to be the end of our season when we really came to our strengths, so that’s what we did. It was a real team effort and everyone who played for us this year did a great job.”

Nicholls, who earned man-of-the-match honours the previous week in the side’s grand final victory over Wyong, backed it up with a try, try-assist and five goals against the Hunters. While the halfback couldn’t shed light on rumours about his playing future, he will celebrate a much-deserved victory in the meantime.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.