Penrith Panthers continue their Premiership contending form with a solid 19-12 result against Wests Tigers tonight in front of 5,107 at Bankwest tonight.
The battle of the west lived up to the name tonight, as Penrith and Wests went at it blow for blow tonight, the Panthers snuck home through two class pieces of action from Nathan Cleary and Apisau Korisau to give the required buffer. The Tigers showed tonight, they are a top eight side in this season's National Rugy League competition.
Both sides brought spirit into their work and from the opening tackle from Villiame Kikau, who crunched Luke Garner to the final moments where the two sides came together it showed that there is plenty of passion and committment in these sides. There will be another clash between the two later this season, and punters will be waiting with popcorn to enjoy another bout.
Tonight belonged to the Panthers. It is a side that is committed, tight-knit and know their strengths. It is a side that is directed well by Cleary with both Jarome Luai and Api Koroisau able to pop up for moments of brilliance which makes them a tough prospect for any side in the competition.
Centre Stephen Crichton typifies this Panthers side. The 19-year-old is tall, strong and has an eye for the try-line. Crichton crossed to kick off the contest and produced a magical effort to nudge the Panthers ahead 12-10 but importantly, the youngsters combination with Villiame Kikau on the left is the secret sauce for the Panthers attack.
Panthers were made to work for the two points, after the spirited Tigers fought back twice and led 10-6 at the break. Panthers have an unbreakable self belief though, took the field goal in the 71st minute then Koroisau split them minutes later to ice the contest. It makes it a Western Sydney 1-2 at the top of the ladder and both will be competiting deep into October.
For the Tigers, it was a loss but coach Michael Maguire will take a lot from that defeat. The Tigers tackled their way back into the contest after wave after wave of attack from the Panthers then went back-to-back through Matt Eisenhuth and young winger Tommy Talau to lead 10-6 at the break.
Adam Doueihi added a penalty goal on the hour mark for 12-all but after that, there was plenty of huff and puff from the Tigers who were unable to break through the Panthers defense to consolidate their spot in the top eight.
There will be plenty written on moves from Joseph Leilua and Luke Garner, both put on report for late shots. Leilua will be under the microscope from his brain snap but Leilua especially is a net positive for this Tigers side and they will take these lessons and apply them to their work later in the season.
Next weekend the Tigers remain at Bankwest when they are hosted by the Rabbitohs, while the Panthers are away to the Sharks on Saturday afternoon, likely at Kogarah.