The Panthers stopped the fleeing North Queensland Hype train, at least for now, with an impressive 22-0 win at Penrith.
It has now won a combined 56 points in recent weeks against second-placed Storm and third-placed Cowboys, putting them in a clear bracket at the top of their own NRL hierarchy.
Co-captain Isaac Yeo split the line just minutes later, and it could have been a cricket score before the break if North Queensland hadn’t had some daring defenders on their own line and tried an incredible bomb attack from Isaac Tagore.
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Coach Evan Cleary later said, “We probably put a few people there, but overall it was a tough first half.”
“We couldn’t capitalize on the field position in the second half.”
Tylan May scored the only goal after the break as the Premier held the Cowboys’ arm length.
“We’re probably a little more aware of this this year,” Cleary said.
“You don’t realize how different training is for six weeks, when these guys leave, then they come back a bit, then they leave again.
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“We’re definitely more experienced. It’s not easy, it’s not going to be easy – but it’s exciting. It’s exciting for the boys to have the opportunity to play in the NRL, and it’s exciting for our original players to go there.”
But one player who can’t show up for the worn-out Panthers is backrover William Kikau – who has been reported twice; For a dangerous throw and late contact of the head, respectively.
Panther tried to bomb the young gun
Cleary believed a penalty was enough for the former.
“It was a little dangerous. I don’t think there was anything crazy about it,” he said.
Fifth-eighth Jerome Louis Scott also raised eyebrows after being charged at Drinkwater’s shoulder, and the Blues opener against Queensland could be in danger of going missing if he is heavily charged.
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