It has been a nightmarish season of sorts for the Penrith Panthers and it did not get better, losing again, this time at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors.
With mid-season half purchase Kodi Nikorima and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck both signing, the Warriors did their job and had the game won before the Panthers could post any points.
Not for a lack of chances, as Penrith had plenty of those. They were simply unable to convert them and were subsequently punished by the Warriors.
Not only was it back-to-back wins for the Warriors for the first time this year, Penrith have now slumped to six straight losses.
This is their longest losing streak since 2002, which illustrates just how tough their season has been.
Looking to poke holes in a Penrith defence that has been poor this season, it was recalled hooker Issac Luke who did the damage.
Spotting a gap in the defensive line from dummy half, the crafty Kiwi international picked his spot and burrowed over to plant the ball down.
A second followed soon after as an initial Nikorima break on the right, led to a try down the left.
Tuivasa-Sheck sucked in an extra defender with some lovely in and away play, before finding Patrick Herbert who darted through to score.
Ill-discipline continued to cost Penrith, as the Warriors went up 14-0 courtesy of a penalty goal.
The game could have been much different early on had Penrith held onto passes, been slightly more slick and smarter in defence.
Penrith’s night was summed up when Dylan Edwards and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak collided with each other, with both trying to catch a long kick.
Resulting in a knock on as a result of the collision, the Warriors extended their lead even more soon after with a second penalty goal.
Nikorima then got a try of his own to cap off his stellar night, slicing through some flimsy Penrith defence.
Penrith would not be kept scoreless at least, with Liam Martin scoring the first try of his career.
Not be outdone, the Warriors forwards manned up even more, evidenced by Agnatius Paasi’s barnstorming run.
Carrying four defenders with him, he powered his way over the line, seemingly unstoppable.
A second consolation try near full-time for the Panthers via Viliame Kikau did little to appease the fans as Penrith languish in last spot.
Some thought rock bottom was looming but Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says his side has already reached that point.
“I think it’s there for all to see where we’re at,” Cleary said.
“We’re beaten in most areas of the game. That’s where it’s at.
“One thing leads to another, I guess you could probably say that what could go wrong does go wrong.
“Tonight showed we’re low on confidence. It is a confidence thing, it’s at rock bottom.
“That was obvious tonight. We can’t seem to kick on and get that little boost.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney praised his side’s defence but believes they can still be better.
“I thought we could’ve been better. I thought before half-time we probably didn’t do ourselves any favours,” Kearney said.
“We put pressure on ourselves, I thought we started the second half a little bit dusty. I think we can be better no doubt.
“The way we defended our try line was real positive for us.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Agnatius Paasi
2. Kodi Nikorima
- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck