Mounties have overcome a slow start, to inflict Penrith’s first loss of the season with a stylish 38-16 win over the competition leaders at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
One of, if not Penrith’s best player over the opening half of the season, Izack Tago started and finished the first try of the afternoon. A quick spread left from 40m out caught Mounties right edge defence napping when Tago put Jennings away down the left touchline, before the winger kicked back inside for the backrower to score out wide to give the Panthers an early 4-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Some concerted defence prevented Mounties from levelling the scores just minutes later when Mounties centre Falakiko Manu ultimately lost the ball over the line.
Penrith also had their moment to extend the lead in the next set when the recently re-signed winger Thomas Jenkins broke the defensive line only for Brent Naden to spill the pass with the try line wide open.
Although just as Mounties threatened to open their account, a looping pass from second rower Dean Matterson was intercepted by Jennings, who ran 85m to score in the south-east corner and with Kurt Falls nailing the sideline conversion, the home side led 10-0 after 27 minutes.
Mounties finally opened their account in the 32nd minute through Jack Miller after the backrower steamed onto a short pass from his five-eighth Rhys Davies, to score from close range. With Kamren Cryer’s conversion from a relatively simple position, Mounties were well and truly in the game trailing 10-6.
Mounties were in again just minutes later when Davies, again the architect, rolled a deft kick into the goal-line where fullback Declan Casey emerged from the scramble to touch down. With the successful conversion again from a similar position to the first, Mounties took a shock 12-10 lead.
The visitors weren’t done with yet, with Davies pulling the strings again, putting through a kick that rebounded back into the arms of Manu who put winger Tuipulotu Katoa over in the north-west corner just as the siren sounded, and just like that Mounties turned a 10 point deficit into a 18-10 lead at the main break.
Mounties continued their dominance in the second half with Katoa notching up his double in the 44th minute, finishing off a slick backline movement inside Penrith’s 20 to give the visitors a handy 22-10 lead.
Mounties would soon score their fifth successive try through Renouf Atoni in the 58th minute, with Davies again instrumental in the lead up. Despite Cryer missing the conversion attempt, the visitors looked firmly in control leading 26-10.
A penalty goal to Cryer in the 63rd minute gave Mounties a comfortable lead, before the Panthers finally found some points of their own through a try to prop Billy Tsikrikas from an Anton Iaria offload, narrowing the gap to 12 with 12 minutes remaining.
That was as close as it got for the Panthers as Mounties scored twice more in the closing minutes of the game through tries to Josh Daley and Tupou to storm away with an impressive 38-16 victory.
Mounties can now look forward to having the bye next weekend, while next Saturday the Penrith Panthers will look to regroup when they face the equally high-flying Western Suburbs Magpies in a top of the table clash at Lidcombe Oval.