Panthers seal Minor Premiership with one game to go

With the Minor Premiership up for grabs, the Penrith Panthers travelled to Townsville to face a North Queensland Cowboys side still looking to move away from the bottom two.

It took the Panthers less than four minutes to take the lead.

Dylan Edwards picked the ball up at first receiver and stepped inside Murray Taulagi before dribbling a kick into the corner for Brian To’o to touch down the bouncing ball.

Six minutes later, Penrith picked up their second.

Viliame Kikau broke down the short side after some weak tackling, and with just Valentine Holmes to beat, passed inside to Stephen Crichton for the score.

The Panthers looked to move 14-points ahead in the very next set, but despite Crichton being pulled back off the ball when attempting to ground Jarome Luai’s kick, Josh Mansour managed to get the ball down before the dead-ball line for the score.

North Queensland did begin to work themselves back into the contest as the 20-minute mark ticked by, by the relentless effort from the Panthers in defence was making it difficult to break through the line.

Despite forcing a goal-line drop-out in the 35th minute, the Cowboys failed to stop Penrith from reclaiming the short restart.

Crichton outjumped Kyle Feldt to claim a crossfield kick from Luai and then offloaded back on the inside to the half-back for try.

The Cowboys had one chance on the hooter to try and hit back but To’o claimed the high bomb from Jake Clifford with ease.

HALF-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 0-20 Penrith Panthers

Despite a slightly brighter start for the Cowboys, it was the Panthers who opened the scoring in the second half.

Kikau was again the target of a kick from Cleary, and the second-rower climbed highest, grabbed the ball, landed, turned and grounded the ball/

In the 50th minute, Mitch Dunn made a line break on the right-edge from just ten-metres out but was swarmed up Crichton to keep the home side to nil.

With an hour gone, Reuben Cotter crashed his way over the line, with two tacklers wrapped around him.

However, the hooker dropped the ball as he looked to ground the ball.

The Cowboys finally managed to pick up a score just a few minutes later though.

Gavin Cooper did enough to force Kurt Capewell to drop the ball from a kick and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow picked up the loose ball and scored.

With 13 minutes to go, and out of nowhere, the Panthers crossed again.

Nathan Cleary picked up an offload from ??? and raced down the right-wing from the 40-metre line.

With Holmes covering across, the half-back passed inside to Brent Naden to cross for try number six of the night.

The trys came raining in for both sides with ten minutes to go.

Scott Drinkwater threw a perfectly weighted looped pass out to Kyle Feldt and the big winger crossed on the right with ease.

Neither the Panthers or Cowboys managed to create any serious try scoring opportunities, and the Panthers sealed the Minor Premiership.

FULL-TIME: North Queensland Cowboys 12-32 Penrith Panthers


Squads


North Queensland Cowboys

Holmes, Feldt, Taulagi, Asi, Tabuai-Fidow, Drinkwater, Clifford, Jensen, Cotter, McLean, Dunn, Gilbert, Molo

Interchanges: Cooper, Pere, Condon, Taumalolo

Tries: Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt

Goals: Holmes (1/1)


Penrith Panthers

Edwards, Mansour, Naden, Crichton, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Leota, Kenny, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo

Interchanges: May, Leniu, Capewell, Hetherington

Tries: To’o, Crichton, Mansour, Luai, Kikai, Naden

Goals: Cleary (4/6)


Referee: M. Cecchin

Touch Judges: J. Stone, D. Oultram

Video Referee: H. Perenara


Image Source: @NRL (twitter)

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