Penrith could be without halfback and skipper Peter Wallacefor the remainder of the season after he suffered a high ankle sprain in hisside's 24-10 victory against the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
Wallace was hurt in a collision one play prior to teammateMatt Moylan crossing for the opening try of the match, and was treated on thesideline before valiantly attempting to play on.
But the former NSW halfback lasted just one more play beforeexiting the field after the first tackle of the restart. He did not return.
The official diagnosis post-game was a syndesmosis injury,which could rule him out for 6-12 weeks.
"We'll have to cross our fingers and hope for the bestthere but it looks like he's gone for a few weeks... I don't think it's toogood," coach Ivan Cleary said post-game.
With five-eighth Jamie Soward moving to first receiver andball-playing back-rower Tyrone Peachey coming on as makeshift pivot, thePanthers overcame the loss of their primary orchestrator to score five tries totwo and reclaim top spot on the NRL ladder, albeit alongside the Bulldogs andSea Eagles.
"Obviously losing [Wallace] early in the game, thatreally threw us out," Cleary said.
"But I've got to say, I thought the boys really handledthat. At times we looked disjointed but that's probably normal. But we werejust able to hold them off for long enough. In the end, to get the two points,it's a good day's work."
Fullback Matt Moylan certainly stepped up in Wallace'sabsence, scoring one try and setting up three more. He was also involved in thefifth and final try to centre Jamal Idris.
"He's been a big part of what we've done this year inevery game," Cleary said.
"With Sowie missing the second half last week, we had abit of a lead-in so that was one good thing to come out of last week. We werehalf ready for that, for Tyrone to be able to step into that five-eighth roleand Sowie taking over halfback.
"Certainly Matty's a big part of our spine there andhe's getting better at it. And he's going to be need to be."
There was a minor scare early on for the second-yearfullback, who grassed a pass in his in-goal, similar to one that resulted in agame-sealing try for the Warriors last week.
"He spoke to me about it last week, but that was a bitof a brain snap again. Lucky Kevvy cleaned it up," Moylan said.
"I was just trying to get the ball out of the in-goals.Didn't want to die with the ball in the in-goal but probably should've. Hedidn't bring it up [at half-time]. We'll probably have a chat about it thisweek I'd say."
Cleary reserved special praise for evergreen prop BrentKite, who celebrated his 300-game milestone with a win.
"Not just the 300 games, but I don't know what hiswinning percentage is, but it'd be pretty high," Cleary said.
"[He's] done everything in the game [and] I still likeit when he's out there for us, you know? Makes me feel better. Not just the wayhe plays, but the influence he has on others. He's a winner. So he's good tohave."
Penrith forwards Elijah Taylor and Adam Docker also failedto finish the game with concussion, but Cleary said neither were of majorconcern.