Penrith staged an outstanding comeback to rein in the Vodafone Warriors in a 22-19 victory in today’s 16th-round Intrust Super Premiership clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
The home side was seeking to give the club three-from-three for the weekend after last night’s NRL and NYC successes over Canterbury-Bankstown.
And the Vodafone Warriors were well-placed for their 10th win of the season when a converted Bunty Afoa try had them stretching to an 18-6 lead after 55 minutes.
The Panthers, though, weren’t about to be denied in a thrilling closing stanza to the contest.
A Michael Oldfield try converted by Darren Nicholls had Penrith right back in range at 12-18 with just under 19 minutes to play.
Then in the 68th minute Jarome Luai’s touchdown and another Nicholls conversion had this one all tied up at 18-18. Game on.
The Vodafone Warriors regained their composure and worked themselves into one-point territory for the ever-cool Mason Lino to oblige and give his side a 19-18 edge with five minutes to play.
They couldn’t close the match out, though, as the Panthers worked a magical match-winner through wing Mason Cerruto to leave the Vodafone Warriors stunned and forced to stomach their second consecutive defeat following a loss to Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles two weeks ago.
Penrith had opened the scoring through Wayde Egan in the 34th minute but the Vodafone Warriors then strung together three unanswered tries either side of halftime.
The first came through a big break by interchange forward Chris Satae who put new signing Zac Santo over for his first try for the club in the 38th minutes.
Three minutes after the break Lino collected his own kick to score and Afoa followed a strong tackle-busting carry by turning up soon after to hit a hole for a good try.
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 19 (Zac Santo, Mason Lino, Bunty Afoa tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions, field goal).
Penrith Panthers 22 (Wayde Egan, Michael Oldfield, Jarome Luai, Mason Cerruto tries; Darren Nicholls 3 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors | Zac Santo; Lewis Soosemea, Junior Pauga, Ofahiki Ogden, Semisi Fotu; Sam Cook, Mason Lino (c); Toafofoa Sipley, Manaia Cherrington, Ligi Sao; Bunty Afoa, Isaiah Papali'i; James Bell. Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Chris Satae, Patrick Sipley, Daniel Palavi.