NRL | Panthers pounce
Penrith scored either side of halftime to end the Vodafone Warriors' hopes of a comeback win in tonight's 23rd-round NRL clash at Pepper Stadium.
Two tries in the space of four minutes to Sam Tomkins and Konrad Hurrell had dragged the Vodafone Warriors back into contention late in the first half but a Tyrone Peachey try just before halftime and one straight after by David Simmons took the Panthers out to a 24-10 advantage which they protected to the end.
Needing a vastly-improved display after their recent efforts, the Vodafone Warriors had anything but the start they were hoping for tonight as the Panthers struck twice inside the opening 13 minutes.
First it was former Vodafone Warrior Lewis Brown, playing in the centres, who breached the defensive line in the eighth minute and then prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard doubled the damage in the 13th minute.
At 0-12 the Vodafone Warriors were under pressure as Penrith dominated possession, aided by an early penalty count which ran 3-0 in its favour.
Bad became worse when veteran prop Sam Rapira was flattened by a Campbell-Gillard tackle, the Penrith forward's shoulder connecting with Rapira's head. Rapira had to be helped off - and couldn't return - with the tackle placed on report. There were also injury concerns for the Vodafone Warriors with prop Jacob Lillyman and utility Dominique Peyroux although they would return later.
While a 27th-minute Soward penalty lengthened Penrith's lead to 14-0, the Vodafone Warriors then suddenly lit up with two superb tries showcasing their best work.
In the 30th minute they stitched together some great passes and off loads with Tomkins involved twice for his first try of the season after collecting a fantastic off load from Charlie Gubb. Tuimoala Lolohea converted to cut the score to 6-14.
Just four minutes later the Vodafone Warriors were at it again with a last tackle try, Tomkins punching through a deft grubber, Jonathan Wright racing up to toe it ahead and Hurrell scooping up the ball near the line to score his 41st career try.
Lolohea couldn't convert from a reasonable angle but at 10-14 the Vodafone Warriors were right back in it having scored their first tries since Simon Mannering's effort just before halftime against Cronulla on August 1.
Having established a foothold in the game, the Vodafone Warriors were unable to capitalise on the momentum shift as they allowed Penrith to strike with a long-range effort right on halftime, replacement Tyrone Peachey scoring for a 20-10 lead.
That undid the Vodafone Warriors' efforts late in the half and Simmons' 49th-minute try after another raid from distance restored Penrith's earlier 14-point lead.
The Vodafone Warriors desperately needed a response but there wasn't one despite going close a couple of times.
While they had plenty of solid efforts with Ken Maumalo, Solomone Kata and Jacob Lillyman all topping 160 metres they had to settle for a fifth straight defeat and now eye their last home game of the year against North Queensland next Saturday night (7.30pm kick-off).
Match details | Pepper Stadium, Penrith
Penrith Panthers 24 (Lewis Brown, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Tyrone Peachey, David Simmons tries; Jamie Soward 3 conversions, penalty).
Vodafone Warriors 10 (Sam Tomkins, Konrad Hurrell tries; Tuimoala Lolohea conversion).
Halftime: 20-10 Panthers.
Referees: Ashley Klein and Chris James.
Vodafone Warriors | Sam Tomkins; Ken Maumalo, Dominique Peyroux, Solomone Kata, Jonathan Wright; Chad Townsend, Tuimoala Lolohea; Jacob Lillyman, Nathan Friend, Sam Rapira; Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: Konrad Hurrell, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone, Charlie Gubb.