Panthers v Warriors: Five key points
The Panthers stormed home to beat the Warriors 30-18 at AMI Stadium on Saturday night. Here are the five key points from the Indigenous Round clash in Christchurch.
Conflicting second-half performances tell the story
After enjoying an 18-14 lead at the break, the Warriors lost their way in the second stanza, conceding 16 points while failing to score a single one themselves.
The away side also doubled their error count in the second 40, finishing with nine, and let Penrith off the hook on a number of occasions, which captain Ryan Hoffman said proved crucial in the end.
"We just didn’t play tight enough, when you are going into such a big wind it’s all about the ball and we just turned over too much of it," Hoffman said.
"You just can’t be loose, you can’t drop the ball."
Conversely Panthers utility Tyrone Peachey said his side did well to hit the targets set by coach Anthony Griffin at half-time.
The Panthers made four line breaks, got 12 offloads away and missed only eight tackles in the second half.
"We just had to defend better and execute our attack. I think we did that in the second half and luckily we came away with the win," Peachey said.
Menacing wind played its part
The only constant through the 80 minutes in Christchurch was the extreme wind swirling around the stadium.
The conditions clearly affected the game for both teams, with Griffin going as far as to say it was the worst wind he has seen a match played in.
"It was a strange game, I’ve never seen conditions like that with the wind," Griffin said.
"Last plays were very different, the normal kicking game went out the window as you saw."
But Hoffman wasn’t using it as an excuse for his side’s performance, believing they should have adjusted better than they did.
"They were [tough conditions], but they were tough for both teams. I just think the Panthers handled it better in the second half," Hoffman said.
"We had some opportunities there, but in these conditions it’s really, really tough."
'Peachey' way to celebrate Indigenous Round
Indigenous star Peachey celebrated the NRL’s Indigenous Round in the best possible fashion by scoring a hat-trick of tries for the Panthers.
Despite being named at hooker, Peachey played at left centre and enjoyed a fruitful day out, making two line breaks and running for 75 metres in addition to his three tries.
Speaking after the match he said it was a great way to celebrate the Indigenous Round.
"[The round] means a lot to me, all my family and that have been watching back at home, so it was good that we got the win," Peachey said.
Peachey also finished with 51 provisional NRL Fantasy points.
NRL return to Christchurch gets tick of approval
Saturday night was the first time Christchurch has hosted an NRL game since the Warriors played the Roosters there in 2010, and the general consensus was that it was a roaring success.
A capacity crowd of 18,000 packed into the stadium for the Panthers ‘home’ match, with tickets selling out three days before kick-off.
Griffin said the attendance figure was the strongest possible argument the city could present in regards to having more NRL action in the future.
"It was a great atmosphere, it’s a fantastic stadium and to see it full to the brim was great for the game here," Griffin said.
"We have been in Christchurch all week and we have had a really good time here, we brought our game here and the town has been excellent.
"I suppose the crowd spoke with their attendance today, to get a full sell-out, and I think it was sold out by Thursday, obviously the Christchurch people want to watch rugby league."
Halves not to blame according to McFadden
In testing conditions for playmakers the Warriors’ halves struggled to nail their plays in Christchurch.
Halfback Shaun Johnson in particular made a couple of key errors in the first half which led to Penrith tries.
The Kiwi international released an ill-directed offload on his own line for Jamie Soward to score Penrith’s first, before kicking out on the full directly before Tyrone Peachey scored on 20 minutes.
When asked for his thoughts on the performance of his halves, McFadden refused to criticise the playmakers.
"I thought again in difficult conditions that both teams, both sets of halves, found it challenging," he said.
"We created enough opportunities, we just didn’t take them.
"We have been going real well there [with last-tackle plays], but again, pretty challenging conditions tonight to put the ball where you want to."