The Penrith Panthers have won their eighth straight match downing the Wests Tigers 18-16 in an at times scrappy Sunday afternoon match at CommBank Stadium.
Well coming into this clash, it looked to be a forgone conclusion that Penrith was going to run riot against a Tigers side that just hasn't had anything going for them in 2022. It was the ultimate David and Goliath battle of the 2022 season but there was a twist that would help Wests, Penrith was resting their 7 NSW stars for this one, so if there was ever a chance to knock off Penrith it's this one.
In the opening stages, it appeared to be going to script as Penrith suffocated Wests in their own end and were placing the Tigers under a mountain of early pressure. But then, something magical happened and the Tigers crossed for the first try of the afternoon. Despite all the footy being played at the other end, some nice second-phase play from the Tigers saw Asu Kepaoa make Robert Jennings look foolish before linking up with Junior Tupou and the Tigers led 4-0.
But, when you're going up against a side that is as talented from 1-17 as Penrith (even with the Origin stars out), you need to play for the full 80 minutes. Penrith hit back almost immediately when following good lead-up work from Taylan May it was a great shift to the left and Villiame Kikau got it onto Izack Tago who beat Daine Laurie on his way to the line. But then, the Tigers side we've come to see reared their ugly heads when a poor pass was kicked ahead by Kikau who toed ahead again to cross for Penrith and he held his own kava ceremony in the in-goal of CommBank Stadium. Despite a lengthy bunker review, they gave Kikau the green lights.
Wests went into half-time with all the momentum after forcing an error from rookie half Kurt Falls. From the scrum play, Adam Doueihi worked his way past some sloppy defence to get it down and despite all the possession being up the other end, Wests were within two points. Despite the officials missing a Mitch Kenny jag back, the Tigers thought they hit the front when Doueihi put it up to the skies, Robert Jennings lost it, Luke Brooks grubber kicked it forward and flicks it straight to Kepaoa, there was just one problem, Tupou was offside and Penrith was lucky to hang in for a two-point half-time lead.
The second half began with a comedy of errors, both sides struggling to gain the ascendency with errors at the critical moments undoing all their good work and leading Corey Parker to call the first twenty minutes of the second half "absolute rubbish".The Tigers thought they crossed for the first try of the second half when Tupou crossed untouched but unfortunately, Justin Matamua ran straight into Jaeman Salmon constituting an obstruction.
Wests were generating the better of the attacking chances and we're imposing themselves down the other end but Penrith was doing enough to hang in there and keep their two-point lead. But at last, we had some points when a pin-point kick from Adam Doueihi found Ken Maumalo who leapt above Taylan May and outmuscled his way past four Panthers to give the Tigers the lead back. But the relief was short-lived following a Scott Sorenson line break which gave Penrith the field position and on the last tackle, Mitch Kenny linked up with James Fisher-Harris to score the match-winning try and O'Sullivan converted to give Penrith a narrow two-point verdict.
Wests were far from disgraced and should take some confidence following this performance but once again, they're execution let them down. They've got another tough road trip to North Queensland next Sunday while Penrith takes on Cronulla next Saturday in a blockbuster at home.