Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The game was a high octane spectacle with plenty of free-flowing football and attacking rugby league.
Out-going Penrith halfback Craig Gower set the trend early when he opened up the defence for the first try. He found Tony Puletua in support and the former captain stormed downfield and slipped a ball to Peter Wallace on the inside. He made it over the line under duress and it was awarded by the video referee.
Puletua narrowly missed a try in the 10th minute before the Panthers leapt ahead in the 14th through a penalty. Then in the 21st minute the visitors found some space out wide and Frank Pritchard ran off Brett Firman to score.
Trailing 14-nil at that stage the Tigers needed to respond and young utility player Chris Lawrence stepped up to score the first of his hat-trick. The Tigers then had a period of sustained attack down in Panther territory before Taniela Tuiaki spilled the ball and Richie Williams scooped it up to run about 70 metres downfield. Two rucks later Penrith moved the ball to the left and Pritchard scored his second for the night and took the visitors to a 20-4 lead.
Leading into the break replacement hooker Stuart Flanagan pulled out a big play running from dummy half close to the line and scoring. The Panthers took a 20-10 halftime lead despite a fast finishing Wests outfit who probably didn