Not even the bravest betting man would have predicted that Penrith could come back from what seemed like the abyss as somehow, with their backs against the wall, they clawed their way back at Pepper Stadium to defeat the New Zealand Warriors 36-28.
In all sorts at half-time after errors galore and poor execution, they trailed 28-6 at the break with very little to go off heading into the second half.
However, miraculously, they scored numerous tries over a 13-minute period in the second half to turn the game on its head and eventually take the lead, capping off a remarkable come-from-behind win, the second biggest in the club’s history.
Led by an unlikely source in back-rower Isaah Yeo, he nabbed two tries and created the break that led to another, as he almost single-handedly got the Panthers back into the contest.
He was, of course, helped by other team-mates including Tyrone Peachey – whose impact off the bench was crucial – as well as fullback Matt Moylan who was calling the shots required in attack.
The game could not have started any worse for the Panthers, who were down to 12 men after Waqa Blake was sin-binned for a professional foul.
The Warriors capitalised as the left-side attack proved clinical with Kieran Foran and Solomone Kata causing all sorts of issues with their passing and running respectively.
Late inclusion Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad was on the receiving end of the play on two occasions leading to two tries.
The second half demonstrated that rugby league is well and truly a game of two halves as it was turned on its head. Penrith, somehow, pulled the cat out of the hat and won the game.
Flying high at half-time, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney lamented his side for the lack of stability and execution in the second half.
Every week is a wake-up call for us,” Kearney said.
“When you get in a position like we did at half-time, it’s about going on with it and sticking to a process.
“We went that far away from it… that’s the most disappointing thing.”
Despite trailing by 22 points at the break, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said his side always had the belief that they could come back and win.
“It was just about everyone settling down and realising what we had to do in the second half,” Griffin said.
“We had to be real clean with the ball and strong defensively.
“It takes a tough team to come off the canvas like that. We knew we had that in us and we were talking about winning the game at half-time and not giving up.”
Player of the Game:
3. Isaah Yeo
2. Kieran Foran
- Matt Moylan
Penrith Panthers 36 (Yeo 2, Watene-Zelezniak, Blake, Moylan, Peachey tries; Cleary 6 goals) defeated Warriors 28 (Nicoll-Klokstad 2, Foran, Hoffman, Fusitua tries; Johnson 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 28-6. Crowd: 11,588.