The Panthers have defeated a spirited Parramatta outfit 26-16 after another great second half performance that now seems to be a trademark of their games.
Last week the Panthers were lacklustre against the Sharks in the first half, and this week was no different against the Eels. Without chief playmakers Craig Gower and Preston Campbell, the Panthers looked lost and didn't know what to do, and the gamble of moving representative centre Luke Lewis to five-eighth looked like a move that wouldn't pay off.
The Eels dominated the Panthers in the first half with their forwards steamrolling their Penrith counterparts, giving them great field position to work with. However the Eels bombed many chances, and were very unlucky to go into the break only up by 4 points, as the scoreboard read 10-6 at half time.
But it was a different Penrith side that came out in the second half.
Amos Roberts came out and took the bull by the horns at the unfamiliar halfback position, scoring two tries and setting up two more to lead the Panthers to another home victory. If it weren't for the leading try scorers direction and individual brilliance, the Panthers may not have collected the two points tonight.
For the Eels, John Morris and Wade McKinnon were outstanding, with the latter saving several tries and almost scoring another. The Eels will probably kick themselves for letting the game slip from their grasp in the second half, while the Panthers must be happy with two strong wins in the last few weeks, considering the continued absence of halves Campbell and Gower.
There was a sickening incident in the 73rd minute as boom youngster Frank Pritchard buckled underneath a relatively tame high tackle from John Morris, causing his ankle to bend underneath his bodyweight. The off-contract backrower had to be stretchered the field, and Penrith fans face a nervous wait as to his injury status.
Penrith Football Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Video Referee: Steve Carrall Touch Judges: Pat Reynolds, David Abood
Scorers: PANTHERS 26 Tries: Roberts 2, Wesser, Whatuira Goals: Roberts 5/5 defeated EELS 16 Tries: Vella, Hindmarsh, Peterson Goals: Witt 2/4
By the clock: PRE-MATCH: It's a chilly night at the foot of the mountains with a good crowd in attendance. In team changes, Craig Gower is out for the Panthers with Ben Rogers starting on the bench, with Luke Lewis shifting to 5/8th and Amos Roberts playing halfback. For the Eels, Matt Peterson is on the wing to replace Brett Anderson.
0 min: NEWS - Penrith have kicked off, and we're underway!
2 min: NEWS - Try denied by the video referee to the Eels after Matt Peterson jumped up to catch a bomb but he knocked the ball forward.
6 min: NEWS - Penrith survive a strong attacking raid by the Eels, culminating in a try-saving tackle by Brett Howland on Matt Peterson. The Panthers are off the hook.
8 min: TRY - Eels. Vella busts the line from some very weak tackling from the Panthers to score near the posts. Witt converts. Eels 6-0
14 min: NEWS - The Eels are absolutely hammering the Panthers in defence, they're unable to get any field position whatsoever.
22 min: NEWS - The Eels are shooting themselves in the foot, they should be ahead by more than 6 points at this stage.
25 min: NEWS - After a great kick for line following a penalty, poor options once again are plaguing the Eels after some great field position. The Panthers don't even look like scoring at this stage.
26 min: NEWS - After a good bust from Frank Pritchard who just came on the field, Wade McKinnon made an absolute bone-jarring tackle on the flying backrower, knocking the ball loose and recovering possession for the Eels.
28 min: TRY - Eels. After some awesome second-phase play by the Eels, Nathan Hindmarsh barges over the line taking three defenders with him. Witt pushes the conversion just wide. Eels - 10-0
34 min: NEWS - Penrith had a great opportunity to score with some repeated field possession, but they couldn't capitalise once again.
37 min: TRY - Penrith finally score thanks to some second phase play, giving Amos Roberts a bit of room to race around a few defenders to score near the posts for his 15th try of the season. Eels - 10-6
40 min: NEWS - The Eels hold off another attacking raid by the Panthers just before halftime.
HALFTIME: It's been all the way of the Eels, although Brian Smith would have to be disappointed, Parramatta should be leading by a lot more than 4 going into the halftime break. Will Penrith stage another comeback like they did against Cronulla last week?
Halftime Score: Eels 10-6
Penalties: Eels 6-4 Completions: Panthers 17/21 - Eels 13/21 Line Breaks: Eels 4-2 Tackles: Panthers 143-140 Mistackles: Panthers 26-9 Offloads: Eels 12-2 Errors: Eels 9-4
41 min: NEWS - The Eels have kicked off and we're underway in the second half!
43 min: TRY - The Panthers have come out in the second half like a team possessed, and after a nice backline movement, Rhys Wesser barges over for a try under the posts. Roberts converts. Panthers - 12-10
45 min: NEWS - Junior Langi of the Eels has been penalised for a high tackle on Ben Ross.
49 min: NEWS - The Eels have kicked a penalty goal through Michael Witt to make the scores level. 12-all
52 min: NEWS - The Panthers kick a 40-20 through Amos Roberts.
55 min: NEWS - Some great defence from Parramatta to keep a dangerous looking Panthers outfit from scoring.
58 min: NEWS - Ben Ross has been taken from the field with what looks to be a wrist injury.
61 min: TRY - After some enterprising play from the Panthers, Paul Whatuira pounced on a Roberts grubber to score. Roberts converts. Panthers 18-12
67 min: NEWS - The Panthers look to be getting on top of the Eels, but some last gasp defence from the Parramatta side is preventing anymore points to be scored.
68 min: TRY - After a repeated set of six by the Panthers, Amos Roberts stepped around some lazy defence to score his 16th try of the year. He converts his own try once more. Panthers 24-12
72 min: NEWS - Parrmatta botched an almost certain try which may have brought them back into the contest.
73 min: NEWS - Frank Pritchard has been stretchered off the field for the Panthers, after injuring his ankle in a sickening tackle as it buckled underneath him. John Morris was placed on report for the tackle which caused it, but it wasn't too bad of a tackle.
76 min: TRY - After a tremendous run from Afamasaga, the Eels spun the ball wide and Peterson dived over on the left hand side, leading the video referee to rule a try. Witt misses the important conversion. Panthers 24-16
79 min: NEWS - Penrith looked to have this contest wrapped up, as the Panthers will get a repeat set.
79 min: NEWS - Michael Witt dropkicks the ball from underneath his own posts and it goes out on the full on his own dead ball line, in a kick that has to be seen to be believed. Penalty to the Panthers.
80 min: NEWS - Roberts kicks a penalty goal from right in front. Panthers 26-16
FULLTIME: The Panthers have wrapped up the victory by winning 26-16. A great second half from Penrith especially Amos Roberts who single-handedly orchestrated the victory. If it weren't for him, the Panthers may not have won. For the Eels they were very unlucky, they should have led more at half time but weren't able to capitalise. On the other side of the coin, John Morris and Wade McKinnon were outstanding for the Eels.
Fulltime Score: Panthers 26-16
Penalties: Eels 9-7 Completions: Panthers 31/40 - Eels 26/37 Line Breaks: Eels 6-5 Tackles: Eels 301-244 Mistackles: Panthers 34-16 Offloads: Eels 15-10 Errors: Eels 12-10
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - A Roberts (Panthers) 2 - J Morris (Eels) 1 - W McKinnon (Eels) -----------------------------------------