The North Sydney Bears have gone down to the defending Premiers of the NSW Cup the Penrith Panthers by 38-6 in Bathurst this afternoon (Saturday).
Rabbitoh Cheyne Whitelaw was the only North Sydney try-scorer in the seven tries to one victory by the defending Premiers.
Just five minutes in, Norths went in for the first of the afternoon courtesy of Cheyne Whitelaw, who took an inside-ball on a lateral run to score. Nikko Roberts converted to make it 6-0 early.
Penrith began to muscle up in defence in the ensuing 20 minutes with Panthers flying out of the line at will to shut down the Bears’ attack. The defence eventually paid dividends when Norths’ Scott Sorensen dropped the ball in tackle to gift the Panthers good field position.
Panthers winger Eddie Aiono would be the ultimate beneficiary when he finished off a back-line movement from the ensuing set to score in the corner. Rabbitohs Premiership winner, Apisai Koroisau – now a Panther – came close with his conversion attempt, but hit the upright to leave the score at 6-4.
But mere minutes later, the Panthers were in again to take the lead through a rampaging Leilani Latu, who monstered the Bears defence to score from close range. Koroisau made no mistake with his second attempt to make it 10-6 in Penrith’s favour.
Just before half-time, Penrith went in again this time through five-eighth Isaac John, who danced through the Bears defence to extend the side’s lead. Koroisau converted to make the half-time score 16-6.
Despite a positive start in the second half from the Bears, after just three minutes the Panthers were in again courtesy of some strong running from Waqa Blake, who powered his way over in the corner. Koroisau nailed the sideline conversion to blow the score out to 22-6.
The points began to come easy for the Panthers on the back of some brilliant passing from Isaac John, who sent winger Christian Chricton over in the corner. Koroisau’s continued his brilliant day with the boot by again converting from the touchline to make it 28-6.
With the clock winding down, Koroisau finished off a 70 metre movement that went through a range of Panthers hands to score under the sticks. The hooker converted to make the score 34-6.
In the final minute of the match, Waqa Blake raced over for his second of the afternoon to round out the match 38-6.
Panthers 38 (Eddie Aiono, Leilani Latu, Isaac John, Waqa Blake 2, Christian Chricton, Apisai Koroisau, tries; Apisai Koroisau, 5 goals)
Bears 6 (Cheyne Whitelaw, tries; Nikko Roberts 1)