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Reigning premiers Penrith Panthers have dominated the Sydney Roosters with a comprehensive 22-6 victory at Telstra Stadium tonight.
The Panthers proved that their 2003 premiership was no fluke as they powered through to defeat a hapless Roosters side in the much anticipated 'grand final re-play'.
Led by captain Craig Gower, the Panthers absorbed the Roosters with some strong defense to lead 12-0 at halftime.
It didn?t get any better for the Roosters as the Panthers scored five minutes after the break through an impressive Preston Campbell bomb, batted back by Amos Roberts, to find Luke Lewis who scored in the corner.
The Roosters replied with a break from Todd Byrne who had no one in front of him to sprint over 65 metres to give the Roosters a glimmer of hope. The Roosters had several try scoring opportunities but the bounce of the ball seemed to be going the way of the Panthers as they continued to apply the pressure.
Penrith eventually wrapped up the match up with a great solo try to Rhys Wesser five minutes from fulltime.
The much fancied Roosters often looked sluggish on defense as they missed 34 tackles.
In contrast, the Panthers looked a class above their rivals through out the match and although it is still early days, they appear odds-on to retain the NRL premiership.
Scorers: PANTHERS 22 Tries: Wesser 2, Campbell, Lewis Goals: Girdler 3/4 defeated ROOSTERS 6 Tries: Byrne Goals: Walker 1/1
Telstra Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Graeme West Touch Judges: Steve Carrall, Steve Chiddy
By the clock: 0 min: The grand final re-play in under way as the Roosters kick off.
5 min: NEWS - Adrian Morley put on report for a high-tackle on Penrith's halfback Craig Gower.
9 min: TRY - Last tackle for the Panthers, an inside pass from Ryan Girdler sets up Rhys Wesser to run through a hole to score. Girdler converts. 6-0 Panthers
10 min: NEWS - Penrith let off the hook as Brett Finch puts in a kick with 2 Roosters players waiting on the left side, Luke Lewis intercepts the pass
15 min: NEWS - The Roosters have had 3 sets in a row and put up a bomb on the left side of the field with 3 players chasing. Amos Roberts catches it on the full.
20 min: NEWS - Luke Priddis makes a big break through the middle of the field. Rhys Wesser gets a pass near the line, he extends his arm only to knock it on over the line. No Try
30 min: NEWS - The Roosters hard work has been all for nothing after 2 sets of tackles at the Panthers end of the field they are penalised.
32 min: NEWS - Craig Gower puts up a cross-field bomb to Amos Roberts side of the field, he catches the ball only to drops it in mid-air.
35 min: TRY - A magic pass from Craig Gower finds Trent Waterhouse. He's tackled 20 metres out. Luke Lewis passes it in field to find Preston Campbell who runs through a big hole to score. Girdler converts. 12-0 Panthers
HALF-TIME: Penrith lead the Roosters 12-0 after The Roosters let several try-scoring opportunities slip. The Panthers look very strong on defence and are absorbing the pressure the Roosters have put on the them.
HALF-TIME STATS: Penalties: Panthers 3-2 Completions: Panthers 14/22, Roosters 15/19 Missed tackles: Roosters 24-11 Offloads: Panthers 9-5 Errors: Panthers 11-5 Tackles: Panthers 135, Roosters 164
40 min: The Panthers kick off as the second half starts.
45 min: TRY - Panthers. Preston Campbell puts up a high cross-field bomb into the in goal, Amos Roberts knocks it back for Luke Lewis to gather the ball to score. Girdler's kick goes wide. 16-0 Panthers
49 min: TRY - Preston Campbell falls off Brad Fittler. He passes it to Todd Byrne who side-steps Rhys Wesser to sprint over 65 metres to score under the posts. Chris Walker converts.16-6 Panthers
55 min: NEWS - Bad mistake by the Panthers as Ryan Girdler darts out dummy-half to drop the ball 20 metres from his own line. The Roosters let yet another golden-opportunity slip as they drop the ball 10 metres from the line letting the Panthers off the hook.
56 min: NEWS - Luke Lewis is put on report for lifting in a tackle.
58 min: NEWS - Brett Finch puts in a kick for an unmarked Todd Byrne, He mis-times his dive for the ball as it bounces over the side-line.
64 min: NEWS - Brett Finch makes a burst as several Panthers are dragging off him; he reaches out to plant the ball over the try-line but it is ruled to be just short. The next play Brad Fittler puts up a kick, it hits the cross bar and the ball finds it's way into a Penrith players set of hands.
75 min: TRY - A great solo try as Rhys Wesser steps his way through some sluggish defence to score under the posts. Girdler converts.22-6 Panthers
FULL-TIME: It's all over. The Panthers prooved that it was no fluke they won 2003's premiership decider as they dominated the Roosters all over the park with some brutal defence and accurate kicking by the halves. The Roosters should be disappointed by their efforts as some poor handling and bad option-taking let them down.
The final score: Penrith Panthers 22 defeated the Sydney Roosters 6.
FULL-TIME STATS: Penalties: Roosters 7-4 Completions: Panthers 29/43, Roosters 32/44 Missed tackles: Roosters 34-23 Offloads: Panthers 12-9 Errors: Panthers 18-13 Tackles: Panthers 254, Roosters 324 ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - C Gower(Panthers) 2 - R Wesser(Panthers) 1 - L Priddis(Panthers) -----------------------------------------