A rampaging second half from Penrith enforcer Viliame Kikau has helped the Panthers to a 24-14 win over arch-rivals Parramatta in front of more than 21,500 fans at Panthers Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A Round 1 fixture that promised plenty, the 'house full' sign went up days before kickoff, even forcing the home side to suspend season ticket sales to avoid fan disappointment. Luckily for the home fans who did rock up, they weren't to go home disappointed, a rousing comeback from Penrith ensuring they got their money's worth.
It didn't start off so well though. Parramatta struck first and seemed to be dominating the game in the first forty. Josh Hoffman was having a field day down the Eels' right edge, opening the scoring just five minutes in. Penrith managed to defend stoically but would only do so as far as the 20th minute when Corey Norman sliced through to grab the visitors' second.
Hoffman's second try of the afternoon came six minutes later - and amazingly would prove to be the last points the blue-and-golds recorded for the afternoon.
Ahead 14-0, Parramatta seemingly took their foot off the pedal, allowing Waqa Blake to grab the home team's first points after 34 minutes, slimming the deficit faced by Penrith to eight points. They held true til halftime to trail 14-6.
After the break, all hell broke loose. Kikau got himself across the line after running a nice line, with Nathan Cleary's conversion narrowing the margin to just two points. The young Panthers half levelled scores nine minutes later with a penalty goal, then Eels' half Mitch Moses was sent to the bin for ten after a professional foul on Kikau, who'd made a fantastic break. The resulting penalty goal for Cleary put Penrith ahead for the first time and from there they were never headed.
Waqa Blake bagged try number two for the day on the hour-mark, and Penrith stemmed the flow against momentum changes over the final twenty minutes, adding a third penalty goal through Cleary (taking his tally to six goals for the match).
The licorice allsorts will be back at the foot of the mountains on Saturday when they host South Sydney, while Parramatta have another away game in Sydney - this time at Brookvale - when they face Manly on Sunday afternoon in Round 2.