The Penrith Panthers move a step closer to the Minor Premiership following a 30-6 result against Wests Tigers tonight at Penrith Stadium.
Penrith kept their march towards a third Minor Premiership, survived a first half salvo from the energetic Tigers to lead 14-6 at the break. The Panthers ran in three tries in the second half to notch up their eleventh straight win in 2020.
Despite missing both Villiame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau, the Panthers side didn't miss a beat tonight. Jarome Luai directed the side well, scored the Panthers first four-pointer and produced a Man of the Match performance.
Wests Tigers were on the verge headed into the game, knew another loss would extinguish their finals hope. Veteran half Benji Marshall kicked for try-scoring machine David Nofoaluma, scoring his 13th of the season, and shocked the leaders for a 6-nil lead.
The first half was a fiery affair. Both sides tried to engage with each other to find the edge but when the game got back to football, the Panthers were slick in their attack and showed the Tigers why the joint venture will spend another year in the wilderness.
Once Liam Martin charged over from a Nathan Cleary short ball followed by a penalty goal from Cleary to make it 14-6 at the break, the leaders were never headed. Brian To'o in his return from injury crossed in the 45th minute to stretch the lead to 12.
Panthers kept the Tigers at arms length, the visitors lost the energy from the first half then lost the game as they lacked any direction or thrust in attack. Penrith weren't at their magical best but Stephen Crichton was awarded a penalty try then a late Josh Mansour four-pointer was enough for a 30-6 win.
The Tigers miss the finals again, and might not even get to finish in their traditional ninth spot. Michael Maguire must be pulling out the remants of his hair about how he can turn this side around and make them a contender again.
For the Panthers, the gravy train rolls on. They start the final month of regular season football taking on the lowly Brisbane Broncos followed by another western derby with Parramatta then finish with the Cowboys and Bulldogs.