Referees and Rugged Defense as Penrith win

The Penrith Panthers and the Wests Tigers went head to head in the first game of round 11, with a packed Panthers Stadium looking to see some fantastic football in the biggest game of the round. Both teams were looking to strengthen their spots in the top eight, with the Panthers looking to get back on equal terms with the Dragons at the top of the table while the Tigers were looking to keep their spot in the 8.

The big news coming out of the team lists this week was the news that Mahe Fonua was dropped as a result of turning up an hour late to training. While Kevin Naiqama was named in the side, he would be dropped for Michael Chee-Kam, with Chris McQueen coming in for his first game in 2018. The Panthers would remain 1-17, with Nathan Cleary lining up for his first game in two months.

It would be a whistle-blowers dream in the opening minutes, with the referees blowing a ton of penalties early on. It would allow for Esan Marsters to grab a penalty goal to open the scoring, with James Maloney doing the same down the other end to have the score at 2-2 early on. The penalties would continue to build up, with the Panthers getting the official warning after a few too many penalties. Trent Merrin would earn himself 10 in the bin after laying in the ruck for just a little too long, not that it would affect them.

The Panthers would get the first try on the board with a lovely grubber kick from Nathan Cleary behind the tigers defense allowing Tyrone Peachey to grab a try next to the uprights for Penrith. With Cleary just back, James Maloney would take the kicking duties and sink the conversion to make it 8-2. The Panthers would then go up 12-2 with some great work through the middle by the Panthers, followed by a brilliant pass by James Maloney to Tyrone Phillips to send the winger over.

Coming back from the break, the questions were being asked of the referees and how they would come back with a 9-3 penalty count to the Tigers. We would get an answer, with the penalty count being tied at 9 within the first 20 minutes of the second half, and with Alex Twal sent to the bin. The Panthers could have closed the game twice, however both Panthers wingers were denied tries by some scrambling tigers defense.

The Tigers would continue to scramble, somehow denying the Panthers on numerous occasions. It would be a drag during the last ten minutes as the Tigers would get to pepper the Panthers defense with a few half chances, however the Panthers held strong to keep the Tigers tryless and Ivan Cleary livid at his side. The game would end at 16-2, with a tryless second half and a resolute Penrith defense getting the two points.



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