Penrith Panthers won for the first time since 2009 in Townsville with a big 33-14 victory over North Queensland Cowboys.
Penrith got off to a good start through a James Maloney penalty goal and then kept out the Cowboys after conceding four straight penalties.
When they finally got a penalty of their own, that gave them the position for Maloney to send Viliame Kikau straight through a gaping hole.
After finding themselves 14-0 down in all three of their opening games, the Panthers went 14-0 up when a Maloney kick ricocheted through several sets of feet and Johnathan Thurston’s hands into Maloney’s hands who strolled in.
With James Tamou in the bin, on his 200th NRL game, for persistent offending, Michael Morgan found Kyle Feldt who got North Queensland back into the game at 14-4. But when Morgan was penalised for obstruction from a Maloney kick, the Panthers went into the break at 16-4.
Maloney extended the lead through his boot early in the second half as Tamou returned to the field and then added another penalty to give the Panthers a 16-point lead.
Antonio Winterstein gave the Cowboys hope when Ben Hampton sent him over in the left corner but Waqa Blake exceptionally took a Maloney kick to extend the Panthers lead to 8-26.
Feldt grabbed his second when he was again found by Morgan. Thurston’s first conversion of the night kept the Cowboys in the game. But Maloney put it to bed when he kicked a one-pointer with three minutes to go and Leota went over for his first NRL try.
Cowboys: Hampton, Feldt, O’Neill, Bowen, Winterstein, Morgan, Thurston, Scott, Granville, McLean, Cooper, Hess, Taumalolo; Interchanges: Martin, Asiata, Bolton, Lowe.
Tries: Feldt 2, Winterstein; Goals: Thurston
Panthers: Edwards, Mansour, Blake, Whare, Crichton, Peachey, Maloney, Fisher-Harris, Wallace, Campbell-Gillard, Kikau, Yeo, Merrin; Interchanges: Tamou, Harawira-Naera, Leota, Egan.
Tries: Kikau, Maloney, Blake, Leota; Goals: Maloney 8
Field goal: Maloney
Sin-bin: Tamou – persistent offending
Full match reports from all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.