Viliame Kikau and Charlie Staines both scored doubles as Penrith grabbed a clunky 30-16 win over the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.
The Panthers should have run away with the game in the second half but a tough Warriors outfit – with no fit players left on the bench – stayed strong to avoid being embarrassed by second placed Penrith.
Kikau scored the first of his two tries from a chargedown in just the second minute, putting Penrith in a commanding position early.
But the Warriors would lead for much of the first half, before tries to Brian To’o and Kikau saw the Panthers take a 16-10 lead into the break.
The game remained a tight tussle until Penrith grabbed three tries in the space of 15 minutes mid-way through the second half to take a commanding lead into the final stages.
Backing up from State of Origin last Wednesday night, Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin were among Penrith’s best.
The Panthers also had to contend with 7-0 penalty count against them, while the set restart account was also in the Warriors’ favour.
After the game, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said his side needs to improve.
“It certainly wasn’t one of our best. We missed a lot of opportunities in attack. Defensively we were just a bit off,” he said.
“It’s the last game of that Origin period… that was always going to be a challenge for us and it has been. But we’ve come through it in decent shape.”
Warriors coach Nathan Brown said he was proud of his team given the huge injury toll.
“Playing with grit and commitment is far more beneficial than being technically sound,” he said.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.