Luai lights up woeful Warriors

The Penrith Panthers and the New Zealand Warriors came together at the foot of the mountain for the nights only game during this bye round, with a near full strength Warriors wanting a win against a Penrith team without three of their stars on Origin duty. Shaun Johnson was looking to run riot through an inexperienced Panthers halves combination, with most pundits looking for a Warriors win. With both teams making no changes to their team list from Tuesday, it was going to be a quick game.

The Warriors would have all the ball early, with two poor calls regarding forward passes halting all the momentum that the Warriors had. The Panthers would look dangerous without their Origin halves, as a combination with 10 games of experience would continually threaten the Warriors line.

It would take until the 26th minute for the first points to get on the board, but it would be worth the wait as Jarome Luai would break a tackle inside of Peta Hiku and grubber for Tyrone Phillips as if they were playing schoolyard football. Phillips would gather and score in the left corner, with Luai missing the conversion.

Five minutes later, Luai would do it all himself as he would dart through a gaping hole thanks to some poor efforts from the Warriors goal line defense and score his first NRL try to make it 8-0. He would make no mistake this time, as the mini Shaun Johnson would make it 10-0 after 31 minutes. The Panthers would nearly have another, with some desperate Warriors defense scrmabling back to tackle Waqa Blake. It would come with another poor call, this time a missed forward pass from the Panthers as Hetherington offloaded to Blake after some great play.

Add on some more penalties, including a poor call for offside at the very end of the half against the Warriors and the Panthers would have a shock 12-0 lead against the favoured Warriors at half time. The Warriors would come out firing blanks in the second half, with plenty of early ball but nothing to show from it. As for Penrith, it would be business as usual with Viliame Kikau offloading for Tyrone Phillips to streak through. Waqa Blake would support on the inside and score, with Luai making it 18-0.

It would become 22-0 just minutes later, as a last play run would see Tyrone May get a switch ball from Jarome Luai, and offload in the line to a rampaging Billy Kikau. He would go over basically untouched, with Luai kicking the conversion to make it 24-0 with 20 minutes left.

Luai would then go over for a double, with some incredible footwork getting the young halfback through a tackle and the Warriors defense yet again. The halfback would break past Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and scream over, with his conversion making it 30-0 for the Panthers with 10 minutes left. The Panthers would go back to back, with a Trent Merrin offload finding Dallin Watene-Zelesniak. He in turn, would find a charging Corey Haraweira-Naira, who would barge over from close range. Luai would convert to make it 36-0 with 7 minutes left.

The Warriors would get a consolation try through Ken Maumalo, but it would not matter as the Panthers would take a dominant 36-4 win in front of a relatively small crowd in Penrith. It leaves the Panthers in the top 4, while the Warriors are on the outside looking in after that dreadful performance.



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