Panthers back in finals spots

07 August 2017 21:09:26 GMTPlus10
Penrith's Waqa Blake.

Penrith are back in the NRL top eight after a six-week absence, following their 28-14 win over Wests Tigers.

The second-bottom Tigers had their moments at Pepper Stadium but couldn't take advantage of the hosts' poor 60 per cent completion mark.

New Zealand international Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored important tries either side of half-time for Penrith, with David Nofoaluma touching down twice in the first half for Ivan Cleary's side.

When Luke Brooks scampered away for the Tigers' third try 14 minutes into the second stanza they looked to have the chance to cause an upset.

But the final two tries went to the Panthers in the last six minutes, Watene-Zelezniak grabbing his second of the game and Tyrone May icing the victory.

The visitors competed well, with James Tedesco catching the eye and former Panther Matt Eisenhuth being strong against his old club.

Nofoaluma's try on the stroke of half-time reduced the Tigers' deficit to just two points, but Penrith regained their advantage six minutes into the second stanza when fullback Dylan Edwards got on the outside of Tui Lolohea close to the line.

It remained a nip-and-tuck affair, as Michael Chee Kam raced downfield against the run of play and Brooks dashed between Bryce Cartwright and May to score under the posts.

The Panthers were denied an early try through May, the Bunker ruling Tim Browne had impeded Tigers skipper Aaron Woods in the lead up.

They did break the deadlock on 18 minutes though, Nofoaluma coughed up the ball for Tyrone Peachey to pounce and go over in the corner.

Nofoaluma atoned for his error soon after, brushing aside Josh Mansour after Lolohea took on the line on the last tackle.

Two errors from the visitors proved costly though, resulting in the Panthers striking back. Centre Waqa Blake got into some open space and sent Watene-Zelezniak down the sideline to plant the ball down in the right corner.

The Tigers had the last word in the first half when Nofoaluma finished off a brilliant flick pass from centre Esan Marsters.

Penrith are 1.52 to win their next game against the Cowboys, who are 2.60 to come out on top. The Panthers are 2.05 conceding an eight-point start.

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