Penrith could be without halfback and skipper Peter Wallace
for the remainder of the season after he suffered a high ankle sprain in his
side's 24-10 victory against the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
Wallace was hurt in a collision one play prior to teammate Matt Moylan crossing for the opening try of the match, and was treated on the sideline before valiantly attempting to play on.
But the former NSW halfback lasted just one more play before exiting 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 best there but it looks like he's gone for a few weeks... I don't think it's too good," coach Ivan Cleary said post-game.
With five-eighth Jamie Soward moving to first receiver and ball-playing back-rower Tyrone Peachey coming on as makeshift pivot, the Panthers overcame the loss of their primary orchestrator to score five tries to two and reclaim top spot on the NRL ladder, albeit alongside the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles.
"Obviously losing [Wallace] early in the game, that really threw us out," Cleary said.
"But I've got to say, I thought the boys really handled
that. At times we looked disjointed but that's probably normal. But we were
just 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's absence, scoring one try and setting up three more. He was also involved in the fifth and final try to centre Jamal Idris.
"He's been a big part of what we've done this year in every game," Cleary said.
"With Sowie missing the second half last week, we had a bit of a lead-in so that was one good thing to come out of last week. We were half ready for that, for Tyrone to be able to step into that five-eighth role and Sowie taking over halfback.
"Certainly Matty's a big part of our spine there and he's getting better at it. And he's going to be need to be."
There was a minor scare early on for the second-year fullback, who grassed a pass in his in-goal, similar to one that resulted in a game-sealing try for the Warriors last week.
"He spoke to me about it last week, but that was a bit of 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. He didn't bring it up [at half-time]. We'll probably have a chat about it this week I'd say."
Cleary reserved special praise for evergreen prop Brent Kite, who celebrated his 300-game milestone with a win.
"Not just the 300 games, but I don't know what his winning percentage is, but it'd be pretty high," Cleary said.
"[He's] done everything in the game [and] I still like it when he's out there for us, you know? Makes me feel better. Not just the way he plays, but the influence he has on others. He's a winner. So he's good to have."
Penrith forwards Elijah Taylor and Adam Docker also failed to finish the game with concussion, but Cleary said neither were of major concern.