The Penrith Panthers overcame a mentally shattering result last time out against the Newcastle Knights to win comfortably over a disappointing New Zealand Warriors side, the hosts scored five tries and nilled their opponents which was a fair reflection in what was a very one-sided encounter.
Story of the match
In truth it wasn’t a high-quality, exciting affair but the Panthers just needed to get back to winning ways and they did so with ease.
The Warriors impressed last week, winning comfortably over the Dragons and breaking an NRL record regarding successful set completion; executing the basics of the game is perhaps even important than before due to the new ruling of sets restarting following ruck infringements and Penrith were superior in those battles of the basics such as ball control and defensive discipline throughout this match.
A tight game was anticipated but the first half was dominated by the Penrith Panthers who comprehensively won the forwards battle and earned themselves significantly the better of the field position, Fisher-Harris impressing in particular with a remarkable 163 run metres during the opening stanza.
The hosts’ ball movement in the opposition 20 was suspect similarly to last week, breaking teams down was an issue for Penrith throughout last season, but nevertheless eventually the pressure told.
The still-learning but lively Matt Burton bagged a quick-fire brace, one score came off the Warriors failing to deal with a high kick and the other came from a charge-down as the young Panthers halfback showcased his anticipation for the first try and his intensity and pace for the second try.
It was an impressive feat from Burton following a very difficult afternoon last week, infamously missing five field goal attempts, three of which came in good position under not much pressure.
The Panthers ran in another try just before the break, Jerome Luai opting to kick on the second tackle, the kick was accurate and he successfully chased to touch down, handing his side a 16-0 lead at the break.
The Warriors hardly had a set in Penrith’s 20 during the first half and knew they would have to potentially alter their game plan slightly to give themselves the right to attack during the second half but the story was more of the same.
Former Australia International winger Josh Mansour scored his first try in over a year, profiting from some slick in-field handling, most notably a trademark delicious offload from the impressive Viliame Kikau just three minutes into the second half.
Penrith’s attacking execution, while still clunky at times during the match, proved good enough to overcome the visitors’ defensive structures and the Warriors ended up finding themselves chasing the game during the remainder of the second half.
They very rarely troubled Penrith but the outstanding former Daily M Winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheckh looked dangerous on the rarest of occasions the Warriors managed to get him into some space. “RTS” made over 150 running metres, the vast majority coming from kick returns and the start of exit sets.
The scoring wasn’t quite done for the Panthers as Billy Burns timed his line perfectly, powering his way over off a well-weighted short ball from Burton to crash over.
The Warriors to their credit didn’t completely capitulate and had a try ruled out during the final stages of the match by the finest of margins as the Warriors right winger Patrick Herbert, on in place of injured Ken Maumalo, grounded the ball successfully from a hopeful-at-best grubber kick but was adjudged to have landed a foot in touch before touching down.
What’s next for both sides?
It wasn’t perfect, but this was a good and much-needed win for the Panthers ahead of their West Sydney derby showdown with the impressive, high-flying Parramatta Eels.
One would imagine Penrith will go into that as slight underdogs but this win should give them some momentum and confidence.
It was an erratic and somewhat passive performance from the Warriors. They failed to exert any sort of control or momentum during the game whatsoever.
Probably a side of similar stature and quality on paper to the Panthers, the Warriors didn’t play to their potential in any department and will now be looking to bounce back on a Friday Night Footy showdown with the North Queensland Cowboys.