Nervy Pan­thers make top eight


PEN­RITH have moved into the NRL top eight af­ter crawl­ing to a ner­vous 28- 14 win over the Wests Tigers at Pep­per Sta­dium.

The match was in the bal­ance un­til Pan­thers winger Dallin Watene- Zelez­niak dived in at the cor­ner to score and edge his side to a six- point lead in the 74th minute.

Play­ing in his first match against his dad, Tigers coach Ivan Cleary, Pan­thers half­back Nathan Cleary then nailed the side­line con­ver­sion to kick his team out to be­yond a con­verted try.

Five- eighth Ty­rone May sealed his team’s fifth straight vic­tory with a try in the fi­nal min­utes, lift­ing the Pan­thers past fad­ing St Ge­orge Illawarra into eighth spot on the lad­der with four games to go in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

With a 19- 5 ad­van­tage in plays in­side the op­po­si­tion 20m zone in the sec­ond half, a highly- strung Pan­thers had trou­ble putting the Tigers away in front of the healthy 15,170 home crowd.

But the weight of pos­ses­sion told on the tir­ing Tigers, and the blow came when Pan­thers for­ward Corey Harawira- Naera broke into the back­field to set up WateneZelez­niak.

For the gal­lant Tigers, the loss means they re­main in a bat­tle with New­cas­tle to avoid the wooden spoon af­ter the Knights scored back- to- back wins over the past fort­night.

The Pan­thers were lead­ing by two af­ter the break when Dy­lan Ed­wards pow­ered over from close range, how­ever the Tigers went 90m in two plays to hit back through Luke Brooks.

In a closely- fought first half, Pen­rith were de­nied twice early by the bunker for play­ers ob­struct­ing play by stand­ing in the de­fen­sive line. But there was no doubt­ing Ty­rone Peachey’s open­ing try when he picked up an er­rant pass from Matt McIl­wrick to race the 20m to the try­line.

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