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A hat-trick from winger Mitch Heterick helped Penrith Panthers' Under-18 side to end their British tour with a 26-20 win over their Leeds Rhinos counterparts at Headingley on Tuesday night. The Panthers had seen off Huddersfield, Hull and Warrington in their previous three games, but faced a tough task against this year's Junior Academy Championship winners.
Penrith took the lead after just two minutes, with winger Heterick plucking a Leeds pass out of the air and racing 80 metres to score, Matthew Forwood converting.
Leeds levelled matters when Peter Fox tapped back Jordan Tansey's bomb and Matt Gardner collected to score, Tansey adding the extras.
But the Panthers moved back in front when Heterick raced onto Michael Carl's well-judged kick and managed to touch down at the corner.
Hooker Jay Mairleitner scooted over to open up a 16-6 interval lead following Ben Rogers' offload, but Tansey dived over five minutes after the restart to cut the gap to four points.
The Panthers restored their advantage on 52 minutes, Peter Wallace racing through onto another clever Carl kick to score under the posts, Forwood adding his third goal of the evening.
Gardner added a second try before the hour after Carl Johnson had charged down Carl's kick, while John Nuumaali was sin-binned following a brawl five minutes later.
Leeds took advantage of the extra man when Calvin Watson powered his way over with a neat step following a scrum, with the conversion cutting the gap to two points at 22-20.
But the Panthers defence held firm as Leeds continued to press, and they then sealed the win when Heterick dived in at the corner from dummy half following a good run from Matt Hawke.
Leeds looked for a try late on to give them the chance of a draw, but the Panthers clung on for the win.
Teams Leeds: Gibson; Harris, Watson, Gardner, Fox; Tansey, Johnson; Scruton, Pratt, Carbutt, Buttery, Williams, Faal. Subs: Watts, Stenchion, Taylor, Stone, Brown, I'Anson.
Penrith: Paluch; Heterick, Forwood, Daniela, Annett; Wallace, Carl; Nuumaali, Mairleitner, Moors, Penese, L Enosi, Rogers. Subs: Pearn, C Enosi, Jones, Harden, Hawke. Referee: Richard Silverwood.