Panthers upset Tigers at Leichhardt
The Penrith Panthers have thoroughly outclassed the Tigers with a 35-12 victory in front of a passionate but frustrated crowd at Leichhardt Oval.
Four tries to David Simmons, exploiting a mismatch on the Panthers' right attacking side, was the big difference between the sides and allowed the experienced to pass 100 career tries.
Jason Taylor's decision to stick with Kyle Lovett in the centres following Tim Simona's 21st minute ankle injury was certainly questionable and allowed the Panthers complete dominance on that side of the field.
On numerous occasions Lovett was found out for pace and agility in defence, with experienced centre Chris Lawrence remaining in the forwards.
It was a picture-perfect afternoon for rugby league, the 14,000 passionate supporters filling out Leichhardt Oval adding to the incredible atmosphere for most of the game until the Tigers fell out of the contest midway through the second half.
After the game eventually kicked off following some miscommunication and a false start between Jamie Soward and Gavin Badger the Panthers had the early running, disallowed an early four-pointer to Dallin Watene Zelezniak.
Lawrence scored the game's first try in the 16th minute after some controlled football and consecutive repeat sets on the Panthers line. Against a disjointed Penrith line, the Tigers second-rower grounded Robbie Farah's deft grubber.
The Tigers began getting the better of their opposites as the first half continued, James Tedesco with a few moments of magic, including a brilliant run to take a deflected kick 40 metres downfield.
However in the 24th minute the Panthers would put points on the board completely against the run of play with a 60-metre movement to score under the posts through their captain Peter Wallace. It was the first of many times Penrith would take advantage of a mismatch on their right side to put Simmons away down the sideline.
They struck again soon after following a Tedesco mistake attempting to clean up a 40/20 attempt by Wallace. This time it was Josh Mansour scoring in the corner, doing brilliantly to plant the ball after leaping early into the corner to beat the flying cover defence.
The Tigers hit back with just five remaining in the first half, once again scoring off a perfectly placed grubber kick. This time it was Luke Brooks nudging the ball through for a flying Kevin Naqaima.
The first half finished with controversy as disgruntled players engaged in some push and shove on their way to the sheds with the Tigers holding a two-point advantage.
Penrith immediately began their second half-dominance at the resumption of play striking just two minutes into the second half after a quick movement out to their right side. Simmons did well to step back on the inside of a sliding Tigers defence.
In almost a carbon copy of that movement they were in again minutes later, Simona's replacement in the centres Lovett clearly struggling to keep up with the outside slide defence, allowing the Panthers another overlap on the right side and Simmons another four-pointer. The Penrith winger's second made it 20-12 to the men from the foot of mountains with half an hour remaining.
The killer blow was struck in the 63rd minute as Lovett was once again shown up on the edge. Dean Whare knew he had the advantage in speed out wide and burned the Tigers' fill-in centre before setting up Simmons for his third in the second half, and the 100th for his career.
A field goal by Wallace and a late try each to Watene Zelezniak and Simmons blew the score out to 35-12 to the Panthers.
Penrith Panthers 35 (Simmons 4, Wallace, Mansour, Watene-Zelezniak tries; Soward 2, Simmons 1 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 12 (Lawrence, Naqaima tries; Richards 2 goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Crowd: 14,234.