In the battle of the big cats on Sunday afternoon, the Wests Tigers got their claws into the Panthers and a late surge saw them hand Penrith a 43 – 18 slogging at Campbelltown in front of 17,200 fans.
The victory proved a pivotal one for both teams, the Tigers moving up to third spot on the ladder and are looking set for a top four finish while the Panthers dropped down two ranks into fourth.
It has been an important season for Wests who will be making their first appearance in the finals since they claimed the Premiership shield back in 2005.
Penrith, however, have some work to do to ‘Make the Top 4’ after losing five of their past six matches.
Penrith have some work to do to pay out on the ‘Make the Top 4’ markets at Ladbrokes.com.au after losing five of their past six
The visitors were first to get points on the board when Frank Pritchard scored for Penrith six minutes in, Michael Gordon’s conversion giving them an early six point lead.
But three unanswered tries by the Tigers in the first half saw them push to a comfortable lead by half time.
Robbie Farah was first over in the 21st minute, followed by Andrew Fifita in the 28th minute and then Robert Lui a minute from the break.
Benji Marshall, simply brilliant converting seven from seven, got the extras so the home side were up 18 – 6.
In the second half Penrith tried their best, but could only post two more tries in the face of the Wests four more four-pointers.
Michael Gordon narrowed the deficit two minutes back from the break scoring and converting his own try so the board read 18 – 12.
But the Tigers were quick to answer with man-of-the-match Gareth Ellis getting over in the 58th minute to extend their lead 24 – 12.
Panthers briefly ignited hope in their fans when the flying Michael Jennings got over in the 67th minute and they were again within 12 points, however the Tigers scored three more in the final 10 minutes in a grand stand finish for the crowds.
First Ellis and Fifita made it a match double each with tries in the 70th and 77th minutes, in between which skipper Robbie Farah kicked a field goal.
Then on the siren Chris Lawrence put the final nail in the Panthers coffin with their seventh converted try of the night.
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