Magpies Hold-Out Gutsy Panthers Outfit
A valiant defensive performance from the Western Suburbs Magpies has inspired a defiant 18-10 victory over the Penrith Panthers at North Sydney Oval on Sunday afternoon.
After the Panthers ran out to a 10-6 lead with tries to Jarome Luai and Caleb Aekins in the opening 20-minutes, the final seven minutes of the first-half proved to be the match-defining period with Watson Heleta and Jacob Felise giving them a comfortable eight-point lead at half-time.
Match: Magpies vs Panthers
Venue: North Sydney Oval
Despite the Panthers having a host of chances to salvage a much-needed try throughout a majority of the second stanza, a relentless defensive display from the Magpies was enough to hold-out the reigning premiers in what was a scoreless second-half.
It wasn't an ideal start for the Panthers when halfback Liam Coleman was sin-binned in the opening exchanges for repeated infringements in the ruck, and the Magpies quickly capitalised on the one-man advantage when Heleta crashed over for his first try of the afternoon.
Although on the back-foot early in the contest, the Panthers responded with a classy try of their own through dynamic five-eighth Jarome Luai before Adam Keighran converted to draw the game level at 6-all.
Luai took it upon himself to break the game open with a pin-point 40/20 giving his side a prime opportunity to snatch an early lead, before Tyrone May sent a bullet right-to-left pass to Aekins in the ensuing set as the winger scored in the left-hand corner.
Heading towards the last few minutes of the first-half, the Magpies snatched the lead through Heleta after a classy backline movement found the barnstorming winger - before brushing past a host of defenders for his second try of the game.
Brimming with confidence, the Magpies found themselves in enemy territory just moments before break and extended their lead when Felise crashed over for a crucial four-pointer.
Lolohea converted to take an 18-10 lead at half-time.
The Panthers were on the front-foot early in the second-half when Coleman made a break down the right-hand touchline, but despite sending the ball wide to catch the scrambling Magpies defence napping, they couldn't post the chance into points.
Penrith were dominating possession and field-position with the likes of Jarome Luai and May constantly peppering the Magpies goal-line, but they were unable to find a break through as the Wests defence held-strong.
Aekins looked to have come up with the game-changing play as he tip-toed the sideline before planting the ball down with just 10 minutes remaining in the game, but the winger was ruled to have stepped into touch just moments before scoring.
As the full-time siren neared, the Panthers were desperately searching for a miracle play in the hopes of posting a comeback victory, but it was to no avail as the Magpies held on to claim two valuable competition points.