NRL: NZ Warriors fall to hard-fought defeat against Penrith Panthers in Brisbane

  • 06/05/2023

Penrith Panthers have handed NZ Warriors a third straight NRL defeat, prevailing 18-6 in their Magic round showdown in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Warriors stood toe-to-toe and traded blows with the defending premiers throughout the contest but couldn't overcome the loss of two players to contentious sinbinnings.

They were in the game right up until the final five minutes, when the Panthers clinched victory with a Spencer Leniu try.

The result ensured the Panthers avoided a third consecutive loss for the first time since 2019, while the Warriors' challenging stretch continues after their fast start to the season.

The seventh straight loss to the Panthers see them drop to 11th in the competition standings.

The try-scoring struggles will be a concern for coach Andrew Webster, with the Warriors having crossed just once in their last 160 minutes of play.

Panthers players celebrate a try.
Panthers players celebrate a try. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Warriors opened the scoring in the 10th minute, when Tohu Harris laid on a perfect short ball for Addin Fonua-Blake to burst through a hole and stroll in behind the posts.

The Panthers' replied in the 18th minute, with Dyan Edwards cutting through some weak attempted tackles to level the score at 6-6.

They were in again 10 minutes later, courtesy of a well-executed second-man play that Brian To'o expertly finished in the corner.

Facing a 12-6 deficit heading into the second half, the Warriors were dealt a blow with the loss of Jackson Ford due to a hip-drop tackle.

They scrambled well defensively to mitigate any scoreboard damage, with Cleary's penalty the only damage in their shorthanded 10 minutes.

But the Warriors soon found themselves back to 12 men, with Dominic Sifakula ruled to have entered a minor fracas sparked by Cleary and Curran with a "striking action".

With five minutes remaining, Spencer Leniu then drove the final nail into the Warriors' coffin, charging over the chalk under the attention of two tacklers to kill off the contest.

The Warriors will try to get back on track next Friday, when they travel to Sydney to face Canterbury Bulldogs.

Penrith Panthers 18 (Edwards, To'o, Leniu tries; Cleary 2 cons, pen) NZ Warriors 6 (Fonua-Blake try; Johnson con)