Panthers put away desperate Warriors

The Penrith Panthers have claimed a surprise scalp across the Tasman today after defeating the New Zealand Warriors 28-24 in front of 11,596 fans at Mt Smart Stadium.

Early momentum was all with the home side, with two tries in the opening twenty minutes putting the Warriors ahead 12-0. Both Thomas Leuluai and Elijah Taylor made a mockery of poor Penrith defence to flex their muscle early.

However from here, the hosts' finals aspirations took a massive hit. Over the next 40 minutes, the Panthers went on to score 22 unanswered points to take a 22-12 lead early in the second half. Miraculous efforts on each sideline from the wingers - two for Mansour and two for David Simmons - were highlights for the visiting Penrith outfit.

The Warriors woke up once they fell ten points behind, with Suaia Matagi getting his first try in the NRL to reduce the margin back to four. The Panthers then hopped ahead again with a try to Sika Manu, who skilfully managed to knock himself out in the act of scoring.

As fulltime approached the hosts did narrow the gap back to four with a frantic try to Konrad Hurrell in the corner, but the Panthers stoically defended the final minutes to ensure a victory.

The Panthers' faint finals hopes remain alive for another week, but it will take a special effort for either side to make it with both sitting on 22 points and carrying negative for and against. Penrith come home to host the Broncos on Friday night with a short turnaround, while the Warriors head to Skilled Park on Saturday, where a strong Kiwi contigent is sure to cheer them home as they desperately seek to keep their finals hopes alive.

Match Details
New Zealand Warriors 24 Penrith Panthers 28
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Crowd: 11,596
Halftime Score: Penrith Panthers 16-12

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - David Simmons
2 points - Thomas Leuluai
1 point - Josh Mansour

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (24)
Tries: Thomas Leuluai, Elijah Taylor, Suaia Matagi, Konrad Hurrell
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (4/4)

PENRITH PANTHERS (28)
Tries: Josh Mansour (2), David Simmons (2), Sika Manu
Conversions: Luke Walsh (4/5)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

TEAM NEWS is in for this one, the Panthers have made a few changes. Matt Moylan is OUT, with Lachlan Coote named at fullback in jersey 20. Jeremy Latimore will start with Tim Grant dropping back to the bench. The new player on the bench is Nathan Smith in 18.

Just one change for the hosts, with Suaia Matagi starting at prop, Ben Matulino to the bench. Jerome Ropati won't play.
Kickoff not far away for these sides... both sides really must win to be a serious chance of jumping into the eight. The Warriors are still in the running regardless but will face an uphill battle, while the Panthers are talking mathematics. The home side is in their normal black jersey with white and red vees, while the Panthers have taken to their Pink strip again, indicating their could be an alternate jersey change in 2014...
GAME ON. Warriors kick off, Penrith ball first up.
4 min: Dane Nielsen looking worse for wear after sustaining a leg injury. He's limping but stays on the park.
7 min: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Thomas Leuluai. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
The Warriors get on the board first through a handy try to Thomas Leuluai. Johnson adds the two.
New Zealand Warriors 6-0
9 min: Warriors now with back to back sets with a penalty on the last. Right on Penrith's line.
11 min: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Elijah Taylor. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Way too easy for the hosts early on here, Elijah Taylor gets perfect service and scores under the sticks. Terrible defence Penrith. Johnson converts.
New Zealand Warriors 12-0
15 min: Penrith with their first chance to attack the Warriors' line, they mess the passes up and Luke Walsh is pinged for being offside in attack. NZ penalty.
21 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Josh Mansour. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Penrith hit back with a try despite a forward pass in the lead-up. Josh Mansour scores his first try of 2013, while Luke Walsh converts from the sidleine.
New Zealand Warriors 12-6
25 min: Penrith with another chance, they force a line drop out through a grubber which Kevin Locke bats dead.
31 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by David Simmons. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh unsuccessful.
Wow, David Simmons with a pearler of a try in the corner! Walsh can't convert from the opposite wing this time. Warriors by two at the moment.
New Zealand Warriors 12-10
37 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by David Simmons. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
More contorting from the body of David Simmons... he scores in the same corner again! Walsh corrects his radar and converts this time.
Penrith Panthers 16-12
HALFTIME - it's been a crazy first half - the Warriors dominating early before the Panthers clicked into gear. Penrith lead 16-12.
41 min: Back underway for the second half.
43 min: Panthers penalty... but by the end of the set the Warriors have held them out. NZ ball.
46 min: Penrith dominating early but still yet to convert it to points. Warriors with it at the moment, surging upfield.
48 min: Warriors force Dave Simmons in-goal. Drop out Panthers.
55 min: Warriors looking likely... then a forward pass ruled against them. Penrith scrum.
59 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Josh Mansour. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
WOW. Josh Mansour has scored a superb try, echoing the Justin Hodges no-try in Origin a few years ago... except this one Mansour has got to ground! Walsh from out wide converts... Penrith in the box seat now!
Penrith Panthers 22-12
62 min: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Suaia Matagi. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
The Warriors have hit straight back, Matagi scoring his inaugural NRL try! Johnson converts to reduce the margin back to four.
Penrith Panthers 22-18
64 min: The foibles of the NRL rulebook on display again - the ball hits Jason Robinson while the Warriors were in posession in their own half. The new rules mean it's a Penrith scrum feed!
67 min: Penrith with a superb break and they're on the attack here...
68 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
Scored by Sika Manu. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Sika Manu reaches out and scores for Penrith! AND knocks himself out! He's up though. Walsh converts.
Penrith Panthers 28-18
71 min: Warriors on the attack now, they'll be desperate to score here...
72 min: Video referee being asked to look at a possible Warriors try to Konrad Hurrell...
72 min: TRY NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Scored by Konrad Hurrell. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Frantic finish coming up! Hurrell scores and Johnson converts, margin back to four!
Penrith Panthers 28-24
77 min: Penrith on the attack with time running down...
78 min: Dave Simmons held up over the line. Tackle four, play on...
79 min: Warriors have it coming out of their own end. Now a PENALTY! This is it!
80 min: Video referee possible Warriors try.... but its gone into touch.
80 min: No try Warriors, Penrith scrum and they play out the set. Game set match!
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