The Penrith Panthers looked to make it a club-record nine wins on the bounce as they faced the New Zealand Warriors at Central Coast Stadium on a wet Friday night.
The opening ten minutes of the game were all Penrith but the Warriors managed to hold on in defence.
That was until Nathan took the ball to the line, spotted Geroge Jennings shooting up in defence and looped a pass over to Brent Naden to open the scoring.
The Panthers continued their dominance as they kept the ball in hand for multiple sets in a row.
The Warriors held firm again as the score remained 0-4.
That changed in the 20th-minute mark as James Fisher-Harris collected a short ball from Api Koroisau to charge and then spin over the line.
However, Jazz Tevaga did enough to hold the Penrith forward off the ground and deny a second try.
A few minutes later, Kodi Nikorima jinxed his way through the Panthers defence on the right-hand edge and put the Warriors on the front foot.
At the end of the resulting set, the half-back then dribbled a kick along the wet surface but Chanel Harris-Tavita failed to claim the ball and knocked on just short of the line as he attempted to pick the ball up.
With 15 minutes to go until the break, Stephen Crichton picked off a loose pass from Lachlan Burr and charged up to the 30-metre line.
With the Warriors on the back foot, Api Koroisau scooted from dummy-half following a quick play-the-ball from Zane Tetevano, ducked under a flailing arm and dived under the posts to score.
Despite the stats favouring Penrith in terms of territory and possession, the 0-10 scoreline still gave the Warriors hope.
In the 35th minute, that hope seemed to disappear as Stephen Crichton released Josh Mansour down the left-wing.
He then kicked back inside for Dylan Edwards who slid on top of the loose ball for a third of the night.
The Warriors were determined to get themselves on the scoreboard before the break.
Harris-Tavita put in a kick on the last play on the half and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was the recipient as he out jumped everyone else to claim the ball and score.
Patrick Herbert converted to cut the deficit to ten.
HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 6-16 Penrith Panthers
The Panthers continued their hard work in the second half, as they forced multiple goal-line drop-outs and put pressure on the Warriors defence.
After 15 minutes of stern defence for the Warriors, the home side pushed their way up the field and managed to pick up an attacking scrum on the ten-metre line.
Nikorima and Pata Hiku combined to attack through their right, with Herbert the recipient in the corner to pull yet another score back.
Herbert then converted his own try to make it 12-16 with just under an hour gone.
A few minutes later, Tuivasa-Sheck failed to claim a high bomb from Luai, and Adam Blair picked up the ball from an offside position.
This allowed Cleary to add two points from the tee and push the Panthers lead back out to six.
With 13 minutes remaining, it looked as though to Panthers had regained their 10-point advantage as Nathan Cleary made a half-break before offloading to Viliame Kikau who dragged Nikorima with him over the line.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Cleary picked up the ball inside Moses Leota’s shoulder, and ran behind him so they try was scrubbed off for obstruction.
With five minutes of the game to go, the Warriors were still very much in the game, and a huge hit from Harris-Tavita on Liam Martin looked to shift momentum the home sides way.
However, a mistake from Jazz Tevaga let the Panthers off the hook.
Penrith were refusing to go for a one-pointer to secure the victory, which meant to Warriors were in the same in the closing stages.
In the final seconds, Wade Egan attempted a last-gasp kick over the top but the ball was cleaned up the Brent Naden for a ninth win on the bounce for Penrith.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 12-18 Penrith Panthers
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert, Pompey, Hiku, Jennings, Nikorima, Harris-Tavita, Taunoa-Brown, Lawton, Burr, Katoa, Harris, Tevaga
Interchanges: Egan, Blair, Alvaro, Papali’i
Tries: Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert
Goals: Herbert (2/2)
Edwards, Mansour, May, Crichton, Naden, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo
Interchanges: Laurie, Leniu, Leota, Tetevano
Tries: Naden, Koroisau. Edwards
Goals: Cleary (3/4)
Referee: A. Gee
Touch Judges: L. Kennedy, G. Badger
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)