SEASONS | 2006

24 matches: 10 wins, 14 losses

Top point scorer: Preston Campbell – 163 [7 tries, 67 goals, 1 field goal]

Top try scorer: Rhys Wesser – 19

Player of the Year: Rhys Wesser

Stats: themightypanthers.com/season2006.htm

Before the season had even started, coach John Lang was to enter his final season at the Panthers when it was announced that Matthew Elliott would be the new coach from 2007.

With construction works on the western side of the newly named Credit Union Australia Stadium still occurring at the start of the season, the Panthers played away for the first seven rounds, which included one bye and also moving a home game to Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide.

Penrith continued on from their winning form from the end of the 2005 season, winning three of their first four, with their only loss being in golden point to the Raiders in Canberra.

Their homecoming in Round 9 was not a happy one, with a heavy loss to Cronulla being part of a nine match stretch to the second bye in which there were only two wins.

From the Round 16 mark, the Panthers were able to arrest the slide and were able to string together a run in which wins outweighed losses and be one of the teams within striking distance of the top eight, sitting in ninth spot with two rounds remaining. But needing to at the very least win their two final matches, they would lose both and finish twelfth and four points behind eighth spot Parramatta.

Being their 40th season in the top grade, a 17-man Team of Legends was named after the end of the season, which included a number of current squad members.

In the lower grades, the Cougars in their final year of the partnership with St. Marys finished seventh in the Premier League but were eliminated in week 1 of the finals. It was a much better outcome for the Jersey Flegg team, being crowned premiers after defeating Parramatta in the decider.

SEASONS | 2007

24 matches: 8 wins, 16 losses

Top point scorer: Michael Gordon – 150 [9 tries, 57 goals]

Top try scorer: Michael Jennings – 15

Player of the Year: Michael Jennings

Stats: themightypanthers.com/season2007.htm

In new coach Matthew Elliott’s first season, the Panthers would win two of their first three, including a dramatic come from behind golden point victory over defending premiers Brisbane to be fifth.

However, this would be the start of a dramatic slide where only one win would be recorded over the next fourteen matches. By the time they had recorded just their fourth victory in Round 18, they were bottom of the table and whilst a late season surge of three wins in a four-week lifted them off the bottom, a final round loss ensured they would finish the season with the dreaded wooden spoon, a mere four seasons after their premiership triumph,

This was made even more stark that a large portion of that 2003 team was still in the squad, including captain Craig Gower whom after a period of speculation confirmed he would be departing Penrith to switch to rugby union. However, it did see the emergence of two promising new talents – Peter Wallace in the halves (although he would also depart at the end of the season) and centre Michael Jennings, who finished as the club’s top try scorer with 15, and also was named the player of the year.

In the lower grades, it was a brighter season with both the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg teams making the finals, with the Jersey Flegg team securing back-to-back premierships on grand final day.

SEASONS | 2008

24 matches: 10 wins, 13 losses, 1 draw

Top point scorer: Michael Gordon – 120 [11 tries, 38 goals]

Top try scorer: Michael Jennings – 12

Player of the Year: Petero Civoniceva

Stats: themightypanthers.com/season2008.htm

The key change to the squad for 2008 was the arrival of representative forward Petero Civoniceva from Brisbane and was appointed as club captain ahead of the new season.

Keen to atone for their wooden spoon finish last year, it was an inauspicious start in Australia’s centenary season, losing heavily to the Broncos in the opening round and a second, albeit much narrower loss the next week having the Panthers at the bottom of the table.

Although their first victory was less than convincing, it set up an eight week stretch where they would only lose twice and had climbed up into the top 8 at the end of Round 12. However, a string of losses plus a draw would see them fall out of the top 8, but once again they rebounded to win three of the next four and once again sit inside the eight heading into the final six weeks of the season.

A horror 74-12 loss to the Raiders in early August, which was only 1 point shy of their heaviest ever defeat saw them fall out of the eight, and whilst they produced an astounding 98-point turnaround less than a week later when they put 50 on the bottom placed Bulldogs, it did little to arrest a late season slide that finished with three heavy defeats, including to eventual grand finalists Melbourne and Manly, by an average margin of 24 points.

It was better news in the lower grades, with both the Windsor Wolves in the NSW Cup and the inaugural Under 20s teams making the finals however would both be eliminated in week 2.

SEASONS | 2009

24 matches: 11 wins, 12 losses, 1 draw

Top point scorer: Michael Gordon – 126 [3 tries, 57 goals]

Top try scorer: Michael Jennings – 17

Player of the Year: Trent Waterhouse

Stats: themightypanthers.com/season2009.htm

After starting the season slowly with two straight losses (which included a tight loss to the Bulldogs whom were later stripped their competition points for having 14 player on the field at one time), the Panthers had by Round 8 developed a 50/50 record. More wins had them briefly in the top 4 at the end of May.

However, a string of inconsistent results would see them yo-yo in and out of the top eight as the season wore on, however with one month left in the regular rounds, Penrith were holding a spot in the eight.

Two heavy losses in the last month had them fall out of the eight but heading into the final round the equation was rather simple – a win by the ninth placed Panthers would leapfrog their opponents in the eighth placed Knights. However, the Panthers would fail in this assignment, and furthermore finish the season at the end of a 35-0 loss.

The signing of Luke Walsh in mid-season was seen as a smart recruitment, with his performances at halfback making them more potent in attack. Meanwhile, Michael Jennings continued his ascendance into one of the competition’s more potent backline players, crossing for 17 tries and also being rewarded with his State of Origin debut for New South Wales.

In the lower grades, both the reserve grade (Windsor Wolves) team and Under 20s teams did not qualify for the finals.

WINS | [2009] Round 17: Penrith 38 Parramatta 34

Sunday 5th July at Credit Union Australia Stadium

Penrith 38 – Tries: Jennings (3), Grant (1), Paulo (1), Smith (1), Tia Kilifi (1); Goals: Walsh (5) | Parramatta 34

More: themightypanthers.com/match0994.htm

The Panthers opened the scoring when Tim Grant ran on to a Paul Aiton pass from close range and barged his way over, with Luke Walsh’s conversion making it 6-0.

Two converted tries to the Eels gave the visitors a 12-6 lead just after the 20 minute mark, however, the hosts would soon after lock it back up at 12-all when Michael Jennings from a standing start around 25 metres jogged at the defensive line and then with a right side step broke the line and touched down.

Whilst Parramatta once again regained the lead to make it 18-12, the Panthers finished the half with two tries, the first to Joseph Paulo who reduced it to two, and when the Eels let a mid field bomb from Walsh bounce, Jennings sprinted through and scooped up the ball near the the try line to cross over for a double. Walsh’s conversion gave the Panthers a 22-18 half time lead.

Whilst the Eels tied it up at 22-all eight minutes after the resumption, this was quickly countered by the Panthers when Nathan Smith busted through the defensive line only metres out and powered his way over to make it 26-22.

To continue the general trend, the Eels were next to score and crucially converted the try to take a 28-26 with still twenty minutes remaining.

Penrith would once again regain the lead when Wade Graham broke the line at the halfway, and found Jennings looming up on his inside, and despite being cover tackled, natural momentum propelled him across the line to complete a hat-trick.

Not surprisingly, Parramatta responded soon after with a try to lead by 2 with just under 10 minutes remaining.

When debutant winger Junior Tia Kilifi crashed over in the corner, it was the sixth lead change and edged the hosts ahead by 2, with Walsh slamming the sideline conversion to make it four with as many minutes remaining. The Panthers held out to win a wild points shoot out in Sydney’s western derby.

WINS | [2008] Round 17: Penrith 22 Parramatta 16

Sunday 6th July at Parramatta Stadium

Penrith 12 – Tries: Iosefa (1), Lewis (1), Pritchard (1), Wesser (1); Goals: Coote (3) | Parramatta 16

More: themightypanthers.com/match0971.htm

A Luke Lewis try after 10 minutes gave the Panthers a 4-0 lead, and further tries to Rhys Wesser and Masada Iosefa, both converted by Lachlan Coote gave them a 16-0 lead after 30 minutes.

An Eels try with a minute remaining in the half reduced Penrith’s lead to 16-6 at the break.

Another try to the home team after 55 minutes made it 16-12, before the Panthers pulled further ahead three minutes later through a try to Frank Pritchard to lead 22-12.

An Eels try with three minutes remaining reduced it six points but the visitors held on to record a western Sydney derby victory and also leap frog the Eels into the top eight.

WINS | [1970] Round 14: Penrith 14 Parramatta 12

Sunday 28th June at Penrith Park

Penrith 14 – Tries: Hatton (1), G. Moran (1); Goals: Landers (3); Field goals: Steele (1) | Parramatta 12

More: themightypanthers.com/match0080.htm

Both teams traded penalty conversions in the opening 15 minutes to have it at 2-all, with Parramatta then pulling ahead 7-2 with a converted try.

However, a penalty conversion off the boot of Bob Landers and then a try from Grahame Moran tied it up at 7-all after 32 minutes and remained as such until half time.

Although Parramatta made it 12-7 only two minutes after the resumption, the home team once again paired back the lead through an unconverted try to Reg Hatton and another penalty conversion off the boot of Landers to make it 12-all.

A fortuitous field goal to Ray Steele, which ricocheted off the goal post and bounced in, edged Penrith ahead by two with seven minutes remaining and were lucky to get the win when a Parramatta field goal attempt on the stroke of full time missed by a narrow margin.

WINS | [1970] Round 3: Penrith 12 Parramatta 9

Sunday 12th April at Cumberland Oval

Penrith 12 – Tries: Gibson (1), Fagan (1); Goals: Landers (2), Harvey (1) | Parramatta 9

More: themightypanthers.com/match0069.htm

Parramatta led 2-0 after 10 minutes, but soon after Paul Gibson went over to give Penrith the lead 3-2.

The hosts once again regained the lead with a converted try to make it 7-5, however a penalty conversion to Gary Harvey on the stroke of half-time reduced Parramatta’s lead to 2.

Whilst Parramatta extended their lead early in the second half through a penalty conversion to make it 9-5, Penrith soon hit the lead again through a try to Laurie Fagan that was converted by Bob Landers. In the 52nd minute, a penalty conversion to Landers pushed Penrith ahead 12-9, and were able to hold out Parramatta for the remainder of the second half and secure the two premiership points.

WINS | [2009] Round 13: Penrith 26 Wests Tigers 10

Friday 5th June at Leichhardt Oval

Penrith 26 – Tries: Walsh (2), Aiton (1), Daniela (1), Tighe (1); Goals: Walsh (2), Cooper (1) | Wests Tigers 10

More: themightypanthers.com/match0992.htm

The Tigers scored first to lead 4-0 after 18 minutes, however eight minutes later hooker Paul Aiton would scoot over from dummy half to level it up, and Gavin Cooper’s conversion gave the Panthers the lead, which they held until half time.

The visitors further extended their lead four minutes after the resumption through a try to Geoff Daniela to make it 10-4, before a Tigers try and then penalty tied it up at 10 apiece heading into the final 15 minutes.

In the 71st minute, a Brad Tighe try gave the Panthers the lead again, and then a double to halfback Luke Walsh in the final five minutes, both of which converted, super charged the Panthers to a deserved 16-point win.

WINS | [2010] Round 7: Penrith 26 Wests tigers 18

Saturday 24th April at Credit Union Australia Stadium

Penrith 26 – Tries: Coote (2), Gordon (1), Jennings (1); Goals: Gordon (5) | Wests Tigers 18

More: themightypanthers.com/match1011.htm

Lachlan Coote opened the scoring when he juggled a Frank Pritchard offload at close range to barge over, with Michael Gordon’s conversion making it 6-0.

Whilst the Tigers soon after made it 6-all, the Panthers pulled ahead again when Michael Jennings ran the ball from dummy half around eight metres out, stepping and jinking his way through the Tigers defensive line to power is way over the line.

Once again, the visitors tied it up at 12-all, however a penalty conversion on the stroke of half time from Gordon edged the home team ahead by 2 at the break.

After a scoreless 25 minutes of the second half, the Luke Lewis ran a hard angled line and broke the defence and found Coote looming up on his outside for him to touch down adjacent to the right upright. Gordon’s extras gave them an eight point buffer.

With nine minutes remaining, the Tigers reduced it to two points with a converted try, but the Panthers banked the two points when they pulled ahead again when Gordon caught uncontested a well-positioned bomb from Luke Walsh and burrowed his way over the line, with his conversion making it an eight point margin, which was maintained until full time.

Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic