Rampant Panthers Secure Minor Premiership

.Defending Intrust Super Premiership champions, Penrith have secured the minor premiership following an impressive 38-10 win over the Western Suburbs Magpies on a beautiful afternoon for Rugby League in Sydney’s west.

The Panthers - despite trailing briefly during the first half - led 12-10 at the main-break despite being a man down with Wayde Egan in the sin-bin, but a dominant 26-0 second half performance enabled Penrith to run out comfortable winners in the end.

The win sees the Panthers maintain an unbeaten run that has stretched to nine games with seven wins in a row, with their last loss coming ironically at the hands of today’s opponents back in late May.

Adam Keighran was instrumental in the Panthers’ big win with a personal haul of 14 points for the game coming from a try and five goals as well as having a hand in three of Penrith’s tries while Fijian winger celebrated his new two-year deal with the Parramatta Eels with a hat-trick.

Penrith, strengthened by the inclusion of rookie NRL props Jack Hetherington and Kaide Ellis, scored in just the third minute of play off an early penalty from referee Kasey Badger.

A dart through the Magpies’ middle from dummy half by hooker Wayde Egan 45 metres out found Liam Martin backing up and the lock forward steamed through to score next to the posts to give the home side a dream 6-0 start.

Conversely the Magpies, who were dealt a blow with the late omission of Jacob Little and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, hit back with a try of their own with their first set in possession.

A lost ball from the kick-off coupled with a penalty, allowed centre Braden Robson to clean up a loose pass and offloaded in heavy traffic to unmarked winger Harrison O’Toole to score in the right corner to trail by two after six minutes.

A string of four consecutive penalties saw Western Suburbs snatch a 10-6 lead when hooker Kurt Aldridge barged his way over from dummy half in the 14th minute.

The Panthers could have at least levelled the scores three minutes later but a smart cross-field grubber at the line from Egan was knocked forward by Christian Crichton in attempting to ground the ball.

But Penrith soon made amends when Sivo took advantage of a quick play the ball following a Liam Coleman line-break from deep inside his own half, to score from 20m out and with Keighran’s simple conversion, Penrith regained the lead 12-10 after 25 minutes.

Egan was sent to the sin-bin for repeat infringements in the 31st minute but a scrappy end to the half from both sides ensured the Panthers would maintain their slender 12-10 lead at the break.

Another error at the kick-off to commence the second half from the Magpies gave Penrith all the impetus to extend their lead to six, through a second try to Sivo in the 43rd minute, a barging effort in the corner following a smart shift of play to a retreating Magpies’ right-edge defence.

An injury to Magpies’ half Pita Godinet soon after further hampered the Magpies’ efforts to get into the game and their problems were soon compounded in the 48th minute when Adam Keighran stepped his way through some soft defence to reach out and score next to the posts to give Penrith their biggest lead of the game 22-10.

A 40/20 from the Magpies gave them the opportunity to work their way back into the game.

But a Billy Burns’ trap and regather of an attacking grubber kick in the ensuing set saw the Panthers turn defence into attack with the back-rower putting centre Tyrone Phillips on an 80 metre run to the try-line to give Penrith a 28-10 lead midway through the second half.

Keighran was the provider yet again minutes his inside kick took a wicked bounce in-goal and was regathered by halves partner Liam Coleman to score before providing another cross-field kick to unmarked Sivo to complete his hat- to push Penrith’s lead out to a commanding 38-10 lead with thirteen minutes remaining.

To complete a tough afternoon for the visitors, prop Cowen Epere was sent from the field with ten minutes remaining.

Magpies will now look to hit back quickly from their loss when they travel to the Nation’s capital to take on Mounties next Sunday at GIO Stadium, while the Panthers will host Wyong next Saturday afternoon at Panthers Stadium.

Penrith Panthers 38 (M Sivo 3, L Martin, A Keighran, T Phillips, L Coleman tries; A Keighran 5 goals) def Western Suburbs Magpies 10 (H O’Toole, K Aldridge tries; T Gamble goal) at Panthers Stadium.