The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Both sides came into Round 2 off contrasting performances, with the Wests Tigers looking to build off their 34-18 victory over Souths while Penrith were left to reflect on a shocking 42-10 loss to the Dragons.
Yet Penrith opened this one with a whole lot of intent and their enthusiasm was certainly matched by the home side. The Tigers looked certainties to score early in the second minute when Michael Chee-Kam broke through and linked with Moses Suli. However, luckily for the Panthers, Dylan Edwards cleaned it up and saved an early try. It would be Penrith who would grab the first points with Nathan Cleary booting his side to a 2-0 lead in the 10th minute.
It proved a wise choice as both sides' defence in the opening half was exceptional, especially in such heat. The Tigers looked to have scored again in the corner, but Suli this time was ruled to have dropped the ball just before the line. And again, on the opposite side, the Tigers would find space once more but the pass to winger David Nofoaluma was ruled forward.
Compounding the early pressure for the away side was an ankle injury to Bryce Cartwright, who was ruled out for the rest of the game and may see more time on the sideline. Penrith would be the next side to go close to breaking the grind with Te Maire Martin zipping through only, to cough it up on the line.
Just when it looked like the home side had the momentum, a dropped ball proved costly. The Panthers took advantage of the error in the 30th minute with Dean Whare crossing out wide. It saw the away side enjoy a substantial share of field position, and on debut Viliame Kikau crashed over off a lovely Martin pass. When it seemed bad enough for the Tigers fans, the Panthers would strike once more right on the halftime siren. A beautiful ball from Peter Wallace was taken by a side-stepping Tyrone Peachey, and Dylan Edwards would pop up in support to push out Penrith's lead to a staggering sixteen by the break.
The second half opened no better for Wests as execution was lacking. The Tigers' first two kicks went out on the full or over the dead ball line, gifting Penrith good possession. Tedesco looked to have grabbed the first try for the Tigers only for a great defensive effort from Peachey to deny him. And out of nowhere the Panthers came up with the first four-pointer of the second half, with Leilani Latu snatching a bomb like a seasoned winger with what was a key try in the context of the game.
When it looked like Penrith would run away with it, the Tigers were given a chance, courtesy of an Edwards error. But as it was all day, they squandered the opportunity with Brooks losing it on tackle one. The Tigers continued to look promising at times but execution was poor with Kevin Naiqama dropping another with the try line begging. And the Panthers would make them pay in the 63rd minute when Whare danced through for his second.
The home side was capitulating with the ball then flying out on the full off the kick off. The Panthers capitalised on the error with a lovely cut out pass by Moylan finding Peachey who linked with Edwards and Cleary would finish it off to put the score line out to 36-2. To their credit, Wests were be fancy and found the sideline off the kick off, yet in the end, Penrith deserve a massive pat on the back as they held out a barrage of Tigers sets late to claim a comprehensive 34-point victory.
It was a clear contrast from their 32-point loss to the Dragons in Round 1 but can they back it up? Find out on Saturday night when they tackle the Roosters at Pepper Stadium. Meanwhile, the Tigers don't have it easy as they attempt to bounce back against a Canberra side on Sunday afternoon who will be keen to grab their first win of the year.
Wests Tigers 2 - Penrith Panthers 36
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Halftime Score: Wests Tigers 2 Penrith Panthers 18
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Matt Moylan
2 points - Tyrone Peachey
1 points - Te Maire Martin
WESTS TIGERS (2)
Penalty Goals: Mitchell Moses (1/1)
PENRITH PANTHERS (36)
Tries: Nathan Cleary, Dean Whare (2), Viliame Kikau, Dylan Edwards, Leilani Latu
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (5/6)
Penalty Goals: Nathan Cleary (1/1)