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REPORT: Panthers v Tigers VB NSW Cup Round 6
Led by class & brillance of Tyrone Peachey & Will Smith, Penrith have continued their resurgence in the NSW Cup with their 4th win in a row in defeating the 3rd placed Tigers 22-14 in a match played in tough, windy conditions at Sporting Bet Stadium this afternoon. Penrith once again named a side that featured no less than 12 players with NRL experience & the luxury to omit the likes of Tom Eisenhuth, Daniel Foster & Liam Ayoub from its final 17 while Wests Tigers once again found the obstacle of playing without the form player of the NSW Cup, Blake Austin, too high to overcome.
Penrith open their account in the 11th minute after five eighth Isaac John made a half break 20m out from the Tigers line before finding prop Nathan Smith backing up on his outside to score out wide. The competition's most accurate goal-kicker nailed the conversion to give Penrith a dream 6-0 lead. The Tigers dodged a bullet soon after when referee Daniel Olford ruled an Isaac John cut-out pass to Kevin Naiqama forward just when it seemed the Fijian winger was destined to score the Panthers second try of the afternoon.
The Tigers soon clawed their way back into the match on the back of some repeat sets near the Panthers tryline. A simple 2 pass move from a scrum win allowed hulking Tigers winger Taqele Naiyarovaro to storm through some non-existent Panther defence to score next to the posts & level the scores after 20 minutes. Seven minutes later the Tigers on the back of more territorial dominance despite running into a stiff wind, took the lead when a sweeping backline move resulted in fullback Jy Hitchcox to crash over from close range. Madden's failed conversion saw the Tigers lead 10-6.
An error from the kick off from Marika Koroibete allowed Penrith to regain the lead in the next set with Isaac John sending play left before a miracle offload on the try line by Matt Robinson allowed Will Smith to score. Wes Naiqama landed the conversion from near the sideline to put Penrith in front 12-10, a score which would hold to halftime despite the Tigers dominating posession.
The second half saw a reversal in fortunes with Penrith quickly dominating possession & territory despite running into the wind but it wasn't until the 57th minute that the Panthers made that dominance count. Isaac John once again was instrumental throwing a cut-out pass which was brilliantly taken by Kevin Naiqama who dived over for the try in the right corner despite the best efforts of the converging Tigers cover defence. With Wes Naiqama having succumbed to an ankle which could put him out of action for 2-6 weeks, Will Smith took over goal-kicking responsibilities but hit the upright with his conversion attempt to leave the Panthers with a slender 16-10 lead.
Soon after in the 64th minute, Luke Capewell's spiralling midfield bomb was allowed to bounce before it was pounced upon by Will Smith, who proceeded on a diagonal run to cross in the left corner from 30m out & his successful sideline conversion gave Penrith the biggest lead of the game at 22-10.
After a strong first half effort, the Tigers second half performance was riddled with errors & it wasn't until the last ten minutes of the game that they regained some composure in attack. A quick out to the right in the 74th minute resulting in an unconverted try to centre Setefano Taukafa after some good lead up work from Koroibete gave the Tigers hope of yet another grandstand finish but the Panthers regained their composure long enough to run out victors 22-14.
Penrith having defeated the top three teams in consecutive weeks along the way to a 4 game winning streak, have the bye in Round 7 while Wests Tigers will refocus their energies when they take on Canterbury at Belmore next Saturday afternoon.
Final Score: Penrith 22 (Tries: W Smith 2 N Smith K Naiqama Goals: W Naiqama 2/2 W Smith 1/2) def. Wests Tigers 14 (Tries: Naiyarovoro Hitchcox Taukafa Goal: Madden 1/3)