The Wests Tigers have become the first team to defeat the Penrith Panthers in 2021 with a dominant 26-6 win at Leichardt Oval.
Leading from start to finish in a match where the Panthers were without eight regular first graders due to representative commitments and suspension, the Tigers stood up to defeat the competition leaders at Leichardt Oval for the first time since 2000.
In an enthralling opening where both teams defended stoutly, ex-Panther Daine Laurie (15th minute) gave the home side first points after Luke Brooks and Moses Mbye shifted the ball to the left edge.
Despite receiving a 9-3 penalty count during the first half, the error-riddled Panthers were unable to take advantage with Charlie Staines coming closest only to be forced into touch by Laurie.
Striking a decisive blow shortly before the break, the Tigers were rewarded for their defence as Jacob Liddle raced the length of the field in a play reminiscent of Todd Byrne's effort in the 2003 Grand Final; to the delight of 9,127 fans at Leichardt Oval, the Penrith chasers were unable to replicate the heroics of Scott Sattler as the Tigers took a 10-0 lead to the sheds.
Appearing to get off to a great start mere minutes after the resumption of play, Penrith interchange forward J'maine Hopgood had his maiden NRL try overturned due to Matt Burton denying Laurie an opportunity to contest a Tyrone May grubber.
Making amends for his earlier indiscretion, Burton (52nd minute) showed strong footwork to get the visitors on the board with a run from close range.
Establishing a 12-6 buffer with an Adam Doueihi penalty goal shortly after Mbye hobbled off with a knee injury, the home side were controversially awarded a penalty try to Luciano Leilua (65th minute) after the bunker ruled the ball had been dislodged from the second-rower's grasp as a result of high contact from Robert Jennings.
Securing the result with a second penalty goal to Doueihi after Burton put a line drop-out out on the full, a barge-over effort from Stefano Utoikamanu (77th minute) capped a memorable night for the joint venture.
Next week, the Tigers face the Eels on Sunday afternoon at Bankwest Stadium, while the Panthers travel to Koharah on Friday evening to take on the Sharks.