Jarome Luai and Josh Mansour celebrate a Penrith try in their NRL win over the Warriors. Image by Greg Porteous/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

Panthers make club history with NRL win

2020-08-14 23:12:45

Penrith have shot to the top of the NRL ladder with a club record ninth victory in a row after they overcame the gritty Warriors 18-12 in Gosford.

In miserable conditions on Friday evening, the Warriors were valiant as the Panthers showed enough class to finish the match in the midst of a milestone-making season.

“Our history is over 50 years, so it’s a pretty nice feather in the cap but that’s probably all it is, but it’s definitely not easy to do in our competition these days,” coach Ivan Cleary said of the record.

“We’ve become a very reliable team that turns up each week, does enough good things to give ourselves a chance to win.

“I’m very proud of the boys.”

On what should have been a special night to celebrate club history, an incident of alleged racial abuse directed at Penrith winger Brent Naden dampened the mood.

A group of about eight people were evicted from the ground by police towards the end of the first half after Naden reported the persistent abuse to trainers.

The NRL has promised to act swiftly on the group given their faces were captured by broadcast cameras while they were ejected from the stadium.

On the field, Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary carried on with his supreme form and set up the first try of the night with a floating ball out to Naden in the ninth minute.

Tries to Api Koroisau and Dylan Edwards gave the Panthers a 16-0 lead before the Warriors struck back through Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on halftime.

Skint on possession, the Warriors had absorbed immense pressure with six forced dropouts in the first half and clawed their way back into the match on sheer grit in the second half.

The Panthers’ only points in the second half came through a penalty goal from Cleary as the Warriors turned the screws on the competition leaders.

Showing incredible patience, Kodi Nikorima steered his side around the park and set up their second try, spotting space for Peta Hiku to tap a pass out to Patrick Herbert to score.

The Warriors looked likely until the final minute but the Panthers held on to deny them the points and leave them in 11th spot.

“I was proud of the effort, but I’m still disappointed we lost,” interim coach Todd Payten said.

“We played tough and I’ve been asking for that for weeks.”

Remarkably, the Panthers now have not conceded a point in the first 20 minutes for their past 13 games.

It’s the longest streak in the NRL since records were kept in 1980.

Penrith will host Cronulla at Panthers Stadium on Friday, while the Warriors will face Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.