Penrith Panthers got their tour off to a winning start against a gallant Great Britain side on a cold night in Leeds. They led 20-0 at half time but two converted tries within the opening six minutes of the second half put Great Britain within 8pts of the visitors. The Panthers replied with a try a short time later and after a tremendous arm wrestle by the home side a Frank Pritchard try on the hour gave his side a winning cushion and two further tries in the last ten minutes gave them a flattering victory. A Michael Jennings hat trick was the highlight of the Panthers performance.
Penrith Panthers got off to an ideal start when they took the lead in the opening minutes when prop Kyle Schuster received ball twenty metres from the try line and drove in at the corner despite a tremendous sliding defence by the home side. This gave them early momentum and following a penalty against Great Britain they took control on eight minutes when scrumhalf Nathan Pill went through slack Great Britain defence to score and captain Jarrod Sammut added the extras to make it 10-0.
The home side slowly began to get back into the game but were losing the ball early in the tackle count and on 18 minutes indiscipline let them down again as they conceded another penalty and centre Michael Jennings took a pass from hooker Masada Iosefa to go through a gap leaving Great Britain flat footed from thirty metres and ease around the last line of defence with a great turn of speed for a converted try.
Great Britain halfbacks Martin Ridyard and Tony Baker began to get the forwards and backs moving in unison with centre Scott McAvoy making some inroads as did substitute forwards Ashley Johannesson and Liam Watling when they entered the fray. But ball retention in good attacking positions let the side down and against run of play the Panthers increased the lead on the half hour when the home side conceded another penalty. The Panthers moved the ball down the line and substitute Jarad Searson got the ball wide out to score and at 20-0 it looked game over.
Whatever Great Britain coach Carl Briscoe said at half time worked as the side came out and took the game to the Panthers which was rewarded after 43 minutes when winger Chris Caville finished off 35 metre run before cutting inside to score and substitute Andy Robinson added the extras to make it 20-6. From the restart Great Britain doubled there score following great play by Robinson and second row forward Sean Foster supporting the attack took a superb ball to score by the posts and it was game on, and the healthy crowd on a cold night got behind the side.
They got in further good attacking positions but the ball wouldn?t go to hand and on 47 minutes the Panthers scored the fifth try of the night. They had a scrum twenty metres out and Pill fed Bennett who went on an arching run to the corner without a defender in sight.
Robinson, Ridyard and Baker were cajoling the side to greater heights and Lewis Lilley ran continuously to the heart of the Panthers defence but they couldn?t get the score they deserved. The Panthers were trying to keep the ball alive and forwards Tim Grant, Tom Pritchard and Shane Blackett were making the hard yards for them.
The game slipped from Great Britain?s grasp on the hour when they failed to deal with a bomb thirty metres from their line and as the ball was loose the Panthers regained possession. They kept the ball alive and Pritchard burst through to score by the posts and Sammut converted to make it 30-12.
As both sides began to tire after a game that had been played with great pace Penrith scored two late tries in the final ten minutes. Jennings completed a superb hat trick as he finished off a superb move taking the final pass from Grant to score a converted try and substitute Guy Chambers drove through hearty British defence to give a somewhat lopsided score of 40-12.
It was a great effort by both sides and Great Britain will perhaps reflect if only as they dropped crucial ball when it was 20-12. For the Panthers who arrived on the Sunday it was a great way to get over their jet lag from pleasanter and warmer weather.
The Great Britain Man of the match went to loose forward Lewis Lilley who must have covered every blade of grass during the game and for the Panthers hat trick hero Michael Jennings.
GREAT BRITAIN AMATUERS U/18?S 12 PENRITH PANTHERS U/18?S40 Arthur Miller Stadium, Stanningley ARLFC
Great Britain Amatuers;
1.Lee Forsyth (Oldham St Annes), 2. Chris Caville (West Hull), 3. Scott McAvoy (Hensingham), 4. Lee Williams (Aberavon Fighting Irish), 5. Linford Weatherby (Leigh Miners Rangers), 6. Martin Ridyard (Leigh Miners Rangers), 8. Brett Waller (Embassy), 9. Steve Shaw (Shaw Cross Sharks), 10. Daniel Falvey (Cardiff Demons), 11. Sean Foster (Wigan St Cuthberts), 12. Lewis Walker (Barrow), Lewis Lilley (West Hull), 14. Andy Robinson (Wibsey Juniors), 15. Oliver Hughes (Cardiff Demons), 16. Danny Phillips (Aberavon Fighting Irish), 17. Chris Hepworth (Waterhead), 18. Ashley Johannesson (Skirlaugh), 19. Liam Watling (Heworth).
Tries: Caville, Foster Goals: Robinson 2/2
1. Jarrod Sammut, 2. Joshua Drollet, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Victor Penitani, 5. Junior Rili Kilifi, 6. Matthew Wade, 7. Nathan Pill, 8. Kyle Schuster, 9. Masada Iosefa, 10. Tim Grant, 11. Tom Pritchard, 12. Shane Blackett, 13. Joseph Paulo, 14. Michael Leeds, 15. Brett Smith, 16. Brad McMillan, 17. Jarad Searson, 18. Guy Hughes.
Tries : Jennings 3, Schuster, Pill, Searson, Pritchard, Hughes. Goals : Sammut 4/8