Panthers pull off miracle comeback
The Penrith Panthers ran in five second-half tries to pull off a stunning 36-28 comeback win against the Warriors at Pepper Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 28-6 at the break, the Panthers scored four tries in 12 minutes to turn the game on its head and hit the lead with a quarter of the game still left remaining, before utility Tyrone Peachey outpaced Kieran Foran to go over with four minutes left to seal the win.
Bryce Cartwright was instrumental for the home side to kick-start the turnaround, setting up two tries. First he popped a short ball for Isaah Yeo for his second try of the afternoon, before kicking out wide for an unmarked Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to stroll over.
The momentum continued shortly after when Yeo steamrolled over Shaun Johnson and found Waqa Blake who turned Kiwi international Roger Tuivasa-Sheck inside out and darted over the line.
Panthers skipper Matt Moylan ensured the home side would hit the front when he weaved his way through Foran and Tuivasa-Sheck to reach out and get the ball down.
It was a disastrous start for Anthony Griffin's side with the Panthers conceding five tries in the opening half and forced to field only 12 men after Waqa Blake was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
Fresh after inking a three-year deal with the Bulldogs, Foran was a standout for the visitors in the first half while Warriors centre Solomone Kata was damaging against Kiwis teammate Dean Whare on the left edge.
The Warriors opened the scoring in just the fifth minute when Foran went over after Kiwi teammates Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke kept the ball alive on the last tackle.
Panthers centre Blake was sent to sin-bin for a professional foul after running down David Fusitua, who had intercepted a Cartwright pass to run 80 metres downfield.
Stephen Kearney's side took advantage of the extra man for the next 10 minutes with two four-pointers down the left channel.
Late inclusion Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad charged over for his first try in the NRL Telstra Premiership on the wing after the Warriors utilised a two-man overlap, before Ryan Hoffman slipped past Cartwright in defence for the visitors' third.
Penrith bounced back to get on the board when Yeo did it all himself to skip past Johnson and cross next to the posts, but the Warriors struck a double blow before the break when Foran slotted a 40/20 and then placed a pin-point grubber for Nicoll-Klokstad to pounce on for his second.
Just when it couldn't get any worse for Griffin's men, Fusitua snatched a Nathan Cleary pass as the Panthers looked to jag a try on the stroke of half-time, and this time Fusitua ensured he wouldn't be run down by Blake for a second time to extend the side's lead out to 22-points at the break.
It was the second biggest comeback in Penrith's history after beating the Wests Tigers back in 2000 after trailing by a 23-point deficit, while the Warriors conceded their biggest comeback defeat in club history.
Penrith Panthers 36 (Yeo 2, Watene-Zelezniak, Blake, Moylan, Peachey tries; Cleary 6 goals) defeated Warriors 28 (Nicoll-Klokstad 2, Foran, Hoffman, Fusitua tries; Johnson 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 28-6. Crowd: 11,588.