The Penrith Panthers have snapped up a five-game losing streak, whilst also handing the New Zealand Warriors their fifth-straight loss, with a 24-10 win at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night.
In their third game since Shaun Johnson's untimely season-ending ankle injury, the Warriors looked an improved outfit but were ultimately beaten to the punch when it mattered.
For the home team, led by halves Jamie Soward and fleet-footed five-eighth Tyrone Peachey, Penrith's three first-half tries ultimately proved the difference in an otherwise monotonous game – with David Simmons's try in the 50th minute the only points scored in the second 40.
The win marked the end of a career for Panthers hitman Nigel Plum, who announced his retirement at the conclusion of the game.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said the victory was a deserved reward for his side's effort during their recent losing run.
"It's been a pretty rough month or so. The last three games we've had every opportunity to win the game but couldn't get it done," Cleary said.
"I just thought, we probably could've won that one by a bit more. But I just think it's reward for the way we've hung in there and worked hard the last month or so."
Lewis Brown opened the scoring for the Panthers when he powered his way over the tryline in the 10th minute, capitalising from a bad defensive miss from Warrior Dominique Peyroux to score.
Five minutes later Penrith prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard celebrated hard upon scoring his first try in the NRL when he went over untouched straight through the middle of the Warriors defence.
Making matters worse for the away team was Sam Rapira's concussion midway through the first half after a tackle from Campbell-Gillard, who was placed on report.
A penalty goal for Penrith's Jamie Soward in the 28th minute was combated three minutes later by their opposition as the Warriors produced a nifty team try, finished off by fullback Sam Tomkins. Started from an offload by Warriors captain Simon Mannering, Tomkins passed on to teammate Charlie Gubb who returned the favour with an excellent offload to give the English fullback his first try for the year.
The Warriors went back-to-back in the 35th minute when lazy Panthers defence saw Jonathan Wright kick forward an earlier Tomkins grubber for Konrad Hurrell to dive on and help cut the deficit to four points.
The Panthers were having none of it though as Peachey's runaway try a minute from oranges – following a just as memorable break from fullback Will Smith – saw the home team enter the sheds up 20-10.
After a nervous wait for the ball to land in his arms, winger Simmons kept the good times rolling for Penrith in the 50th minute when he scored off a deft kick from James Segeyaro to dive over in the corner.
With the rain forcing fans to head for the undercover seats, the game failed to reach any great heights after Simmons's try with slippery conditions forcing plenty of errors. Nonetheless wet Panthers fans headed home knowing they had secured their first win in six weeks.
"It was very disappointing," Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said of the defeat.
"Obviously we didn't start well, we were behind early and we clawed our way back a little bit but the try before half-time and particular after it too it's just where we are at currently. We're just not quite good enough."
Penrith Panthers 24 (Lewis Brown, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Tyrone Peachey, David Simmons Tries; Jamie Soward 4 Goals) defeated New Zealand Warriors 10 (Sam Tomkins, Konrad Hurrell Tries; Tuimoala Lolohea Goal) at Pepper Stadium. Crowd: 6774. Half-time: Panthers 20-10. On Report: Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Panthers).