The Panthers Harold Matts side opened their 2018 season with a dominant 22-0 victory over Balmain Tigers at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams got off to a scrappy start, with defence dominating attack, and dropped ball undermining a number of promising opportunities for points.
Panthers fullback Sunia Turuva looked destined to score in the 14th minute as he set sail for the tryline but a desperate last-ditch tackle meant he couldn’t get the ball to ground.
Panthers finally broke the deadlock in the 19th minute as five-eighth Donovan Boney put Turuva through the line with a well-timed inside ball. Boney stepped up with the conversion to make the score 6-0.
The rest of the first stanza was largely played in Balmain’s half but the home side failed to turn their territorial advantage into tries.
HALFTIME – PANTHERS 6-0 BALMAIN
An early penalty after the break put the Panthers back on the attack and this time centre Ashley Cosgrove, stepping and spinning in the tackle, found the space he needed to score. Boney’s attempted conversion sailed wide but Panthers led 10-0 after 35 minutes.
Boney did it all himself in the 46th minute as he got on the outside of his marker, dummied and strolled across the tryline. The five-eighth’s successful conversion put the Panthers ahead 16-0.
Back-to-back penalties late in the game saw the Panthers camped on Balmain’s line. Scooting out of dummy half against tiring defence, Izack Tago crashed over to score. Boney knocked the conversion from directly in front to make it 22-0.
FULLTIME – PANTHERS 22-0 BALMAIN