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Exhilarating Easts Fall Short In Thrilling Encounter

An exhilarating performance by the Sydney Roosters wasn't enough to overcome the Penrith Panthers, who prevailed 24-22 in Round 15 of the NSW Cup on Sunday afternoon at Wentworth Park.

The Tricolours fought tooth and nail to recover from a 10-point deficit early in the second half, with Wentworth Park wizardry from halfback Joseph Taipairi resulting in a trio of try assists, while a double to back-rower Riley Meyn in an outstanding performance helped keep the Roosters in the contest. 

Early pressure from the Panthers resulted in the opening try of the contest, with prop Eddie Blacker forcing his way over the try line following a slick short ball. Halfback Kurt Falls converted the try to give the visitors a six-point advantage five minutes in.

The Roosters found themselves with a repeat set of six on the visitor’s line after Dylan Napa retrieved a deflected ball deemed played at by the referee. Easts failed to capitalise however, as a kick from Jaxson Paulo in the following set was swooped on by Panthers five-eighth Jack Cole, who ran 80 metres to score. Falls’ converted to extend the Penrith lead to 12 points.

An error from Penrith coming out of their own half gifted the Roosters a chance to hit back four minutes later, and in the following set it was second rower Riley Meyn who latched on to a pinpoint grubber from halfback Joseph Taipari to score. Fullback Jaxson Paulo converted the try, reducing the margin to six. 

As the Red, White and Blue looked to level the match, the Panthers found the line again with another 80-metre effort, this time from Daeon Amituanai who gathered a loose pass from the hosts to score in the corner and extend the visitor’s lead to 10.

The Roosters weren’t to be disheartened however, with winger Jade Anderson expertly keeping the ball in play on the left touch line before hooker Alan Holten’s tricky footwork close to the line resulted in the Tricolours' second four-pointer. Paulo converted the try to make the score 16-12 heading into the break.

The visitors came firing out of the blocks at the resumption of play, producing a blistering full-field effort that was finished off by centre Samuel Lane in the corner in their first set of the half. Falls converted once more to extend the Panthers lead to 10.

Holten, who replaced Thomas Deakin at hooker after the Skipper sustained a first-half head injury, showed great skill with a chip kick over the defence on the last play of a set but the play failed to result in points.

The hosts weren’t to be denied for long, as Taipari put Ethan Clark-Wood through a gap in Penrith’s defence for the rapid centre to notch his fourth try of the 2023 campaign in the 56th minute. Paulo converted the try to haul the Roosters back within four points. 

A penalty for a high tackle awarded to Penrith enabled them a chance to extend their lead to a converted try, with Falls slotting the penalty goal to make it 24-18 in the 63rd minute.

Following the penalty goal the Roosters found themselves in Panthers territory when Allan Fitzgibbon was sent through a gap in Penrith's defence. His rampaging run resulted in a penalty only 10 metres out from the line after an obstruction infringement by the defence.

A silky Roosters attack in the following set was finished off by Meyn who recorded his second try of the match, running onto a deft pass from his halfback Taipari whose third try assist put the hosts within two points and well on the front foot just seven minutes from full time.

Another massive defensive play from Allan Fitzgibbon, who stripped the ball from a runaway Panther, set the barnstorming Roosters on their way, as Meyn once again was put into space but was tackled by the fullback before he could reach the line.

Just three minutes from full time, prop Dylan Napa was sent to the sinbin for a dangerous tackle, and the Panthers used the penalty to advance downfield and pin the Roosters in their own half for the remainder of the match, holding on for a slender 24-22 victory.

Sydney Roosters 22 (Alan Holten, Ethan Clark-Wood Neiufi, Riley Meyn 2 tries, Jaxson Paulo 3 goals) def by Penrith Panthers 24 (Eddie Blacker, Jack Cole, Daeon Amituanai, Samuel Lane tries, Kurt Falls 4 goals)

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.