Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
Penrith have reclaimed top position on the NRL ladder after a clinical 26-10 victory over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The win did come at a cost however, with the new competition leaders finishing the game with just one player on the bench, losing captain Peter Wallace to an ankle injury and forwards Elijah Taylor and Adam Docker to concussion.
On an afternoon that was supposed to focus on the debut of exciting Wests Tigers teenager Mitchell Moses, the nephew of Tigers legend Ben Elias, it was his opposite number who put on an attacking masterclass.
Second-year fullback Matt Moylan was involved in four of Penrith's five tries – scoring the first of the match before setting up three more. He also threw the second-last pass for his side's fifth.
Moses passed his first test – a towering Jamie Soward bomb in the opening minutes. But sadly, it was one of the few things for Tigers fans to cheer all afternoon.
There were certainly glimpses of the Moses-Brooks combination, but the home side struggled to maintain pressure on a Panthers unit that never looked like panicking in their own half – even when Moylan grassed a pass in his own in-goal.
And they had very good reason to be confident.
On the very same play that they lost skipper Wallace for the game to a high ankle sprain, Moylan stepped two arm-grabbing defenders in the 16th minute for the opening points of the match.
Six minutes later they were in again through acting dummy-half Tyrone Peachey, but the in-form back-rower was pulled up for an obstruction in the play-the-ball.
The setback failed to deter the visitors however, as a failed attempt to tackle kicker Jamie Soward resulted in a soft, 53rd-minute Dean Whare four-pointer on the second tackle of the ensuing set.
The Tigers thought they had reduced the lead just before the halftime break when Luke Brooks' inside pass put centre Chris Lawrence into space, but the veteran was ruled to have lost the ball in the put-down.
A halftime recalibration from coach Mick Potter should've seen the home side in good stead, but a backchat from skipper Braith Anasta – and then a penalty for a lifting tackle on Jamal Idris – ended in Moylan setting up right winger Kevin Naiqama in the corner in the 49th minute.
The home side hit back four minutes later courtesy of Blake Austin's left-foot step, but any thought of an unlikely comeback was put to bed when the Panthers kept the ball alive just long enough for Idris's first try as a Panther.
Penrith sealed the win in the 63rd minute after yet another right-side shift and Moylan assist, completing Whare's brace of tries.
The Tigers bagged a late consolation try to Luke Brooks in the 77th minute.
Anasta, who was put on report for the lifting tackle on Idris, came off midway through the second half with a partially torn bicep and went immediately for scans.
Penrith 26 (Whare 2, Moylan, Naiqama, Idris tries; Soward 3 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 10 (Austin, Brooks try; Richards goal). Crowd: 16,698.