Last Time Played: Panthers v Warriors
The Warriors defeated the Panthers 26-12 at Centrebet Stadium in Round 24 last year.
Penrith shot themselves in the foot in the first 40 minutes when they allowed the Warriors through for three tries to trail 16-nil at halftime. After a scoreless opening quarter, Shaun Johnson bagged first points in the 23rd minute when he received a pass from Kevin Locke 20 metres out from his goalposts and then evaded and outpaced a handful of Panthers chasers to score a dazzling 80-metre solo try.
The Warriors extended their lead just three minutes later when Panthers centre Michael Jennings spilled the ball after being hit by a crunching tackle on his goal-line, with Ben Matulino cleaning up the spoils for the easiest of tries.
Adding to the Panthers’ misery, the Warriors crossed for a try on the stroke of halftime against the run of play – with just seconds remaining on the clock the Panthers spread the ball wide to the right but their last-ditch raid went horribly wrong when Warriors fullback Locke retrieved Brad Tighe’s speculative chip chick and raced 60 metres to cross adjacent to the goalposts.
Tries to Penrith’s David Simmons (43rd minute) and Tighe (55th minute), plus a penalty goal bridged the scoreline to 18-12 with 15 minutes remaining, before a penalty goal to the Warriors and a Manu Vatuvei try in the 75th minute sealed the win for the visitors.
It was certainly the one that got a way for the Panthers, who made more line-breaks on the night (5-2) and defended stoutly (just 21 missed tackles to the Warriors’ 36).
Michael Jennings, playing fullback for the Panthers, made 17 runs and 173 metres, while Shaun Johnson made 141 metres in the No.7 for the Warriors, also adding a try assist and a line-break.