Panthers roar back into the race
TONY ADAMS in Sydney
Penrith coach Royce Simmons claimed the Panthers were back on track for the finals after a hard-fought 20-12 victory over South Sydney in yesterday's Australian Rugby League premiership round 10.
The Panthers were labelled the bad boys of rugby league after a spiteful loss to Western Suburbs in the previous round, which resulted in four players being suspended for a total of 12 weeks.
But after a fortnight of soul-searching, the Panthers got their act together, winning the game and finishing in the good books with referee Matt Hewitt.
'I thought our team discipline today was a big improvement,' a relieved Simmons said. 'I'd been driving the players nuts for the past fortnight about the importance of getting it right and we took a big step in the right direction today.' In a tight match, the scores were locked at eight-all midway through the second half when Souths lost a certain try.
Full-back David Penna looked sure to score 10 metres from the Panthers' line but he gave a pass to halfback Jason Bell, who spilled it.
Three minutes later, winger Robbie Beckett crossed in the corner and the Panthers were on their way to victory.
Souths coach Ken Shine refused to criticise Penna, who was one of the Rabbitohs' best.
'It was only about the third and fourth tackle and he didn't have to pass it,' Shine said. 'It's heartbreaking stuff, it was in the wet and he might have been able to slide over, who knows.' Brothers Ken and Kevin McGuinness propelled Western Suburbs to an impressive 22-8 win over the Western Reds in Perth.
Winger Kevin scored two tries, making several fine dashes down the right flank.
And full-back Ken was safe under intense pressure from the Reds during the game.