The Illawarra Cutters were defeated by the Penrith Panthers 28-22 at Sportingbet Stadium, Penrith on Saturday.
Despite a late fight back from Illawarra, the home side were able to hold on to the victory and continue their run at the top of the NSW Cup table.
The Panthers were the first to strike after a loose Illawarra pass was picked up by Tom Humble who ran 60-metres before finding centre Waqa Blake to score out wide.
Wes Naqiama’s conversion was successful for a 6-0 lead.
The visitors struck back however in the seventh minute through Sam Duggan.
The five-eighth put a grubber in towards the in-goal that deflected off a defender and regathered to run through a gap to score next to the posts.
Duggan was able to convert his own try to tie the game 6-6.
The Panthers were then able to find the try line again in the 19th minute.
After being awarded a penalty on the Cutters line, the hosts shifted the ball through the hands to Blake who stretched out to score his second try of the game.
Five minutes later the home side scored another try.
Panthers halfback Tom Humble dummied to one of his teammates and sliced through before using his strength to get the ball just over the line.
Naqiama kicked his second conversion for the afternoon to give the home side a 16-6.
The Panthers were the first to score when play resumed after the interval.
An outside inside ball saw Will Smith in a gap who subsequently found Kevin Kingston before he offloaded to Kieran Moss to score untouched.
Naiqama had an easy kick and converted to lead 22-6.
The Cutters replied with their own warranted four-pointer after a cross-field kick from Kyle Eather was dropped from a Panthers player into the arms of Junior Tia-Kilifi who dove over.
The Cutters made it back-to-back tries on the hourmark after Rory O’Brien changed his line to step and burst through to score under the posts.
Sam Duggan converted to make it 22-16.
This scoreline would be short lived as three minutes later the Panthers scored again after Blake burst into the open field and beat two defenders to score his third try of the game.
Naiqama converted to make it 28-16.
Cutters lock Shannon Wakeman scored for the visitors nine minutes from time.
After receiving a ball close to the line, Wakeman used his upper-body strength to shrug off defenders and score next to the posts.
Duggan was again successful with the boot to leave the game in the balance at 28-22.
The Cutters pressured the home side for the last nine minutes but were unable to find the try line as the Panthers held on for the two points.
The Penrith Panthers defeated the Illawarra Cutters.
Illawarra Cutters 22. Tries: Duggan, O’Brien, Tia-Kilifi, Wakeman. Goals: Duggan (3/4).
Penrith Panthers 28. Tries: Blake (3), Humble, Moss. Goals: Naiqama (4/5).