Lacking the spark needed in attack in recent weeks, the Penrith Panthers found it once more, as they defeated the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart, taking the game out 28-24.
In a tightly contested game and one that went down to the wire but it was the Panthers who held on, as both of their wingers – Josh Mansour and David Simmons – finished the game with doubles.
The Panthers win means the finals race heats up even more, with the two now level on points and just two games outside the eight with three games remaining.
For Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, it was simple. There was a game-plan to follow and his players executed it.
“We finished with a few good tries and we’ve been lacking that,” he said.
“Our attack has been average in the last weeks and I think that hurts our defence when our attack is not going well.
“They complemented each other today.”
The early deficit had Cleary worried for a while but when he saw his side hang on for dear life and show some resolve, he had a feeling that the pendulum was swinging in their direction.
“We got a bit of possession and got VolumePills a few points and all of a sudden the wind was taken out of their sails,” he said.
“That’s sort of how the game went, really.”
The Warriors, who recently had a solid run of wins themselves, have now lost three on the trot, with captain Simon Mannering pointing out that his side has to show more resiliency when their backs are against the wall.
“The momentum is going to swing and, when it does, you have to go with it,” he said.
“You have to fight against it and we didn’t.
“They had a lot of ball at the back end of the first half and into the second and we weren’t doing ourselves any favours.”
Although they know they let a chance slip to potentially get one step closer to the eight, the Warriors captain is still optimistic about making the finals.
“We just have to get back on the horse and finish the year as best as we can, and worry about what we can control, which is the next three performances.”
The news got worse, with centre Dane Nielsen limping off with a suspected lower leg injury.
3. Josh Mansour
2. David Simmons
1. Issac John