WINS | [2020] Round 1: Penrith 20 Sydney Roosters 14

Saturday 14th March at Panthers Stadium

Penrith 20: Tries: Crichton (1), Kikau (1), Naden (1); Goals: Cleary (4) | Sydney Roosters 14


The Roosters opened the scoring with a converted try inside the opening five minutes of the contest, and at the halfway mark further extended their lead to 12-0.

Penrith finally got on the scoreboard after 26 minutes when Jarome Luai kicked on the third tackle, and threaded a grubber through to the try line, with a sprinting Brent Naden winning the race for the ball.

The Panthers were able to hold out the Roosters for the remainder of the half and trailed 12-6 at the break.

A penalty conversion to Nathan Cleary just under 8 minutes after the resumption reduced it to 12-8 but was soon countered by a Roosters penalty which restored their lead to 6.

With 17 minutes remaining, the Josh Mansour busted the line on the left flank and with the Roosters cover defence emerging he kicked the ball back on his inside, and Stephen Crichton who had just seconds earlier come on as a replacement got a perfect bounce only metres out and crossed almost untouched and adjacent to the left upright, with Cleary’s extras tying it up at 14-all.

With only 10 minutes remaining, the Panthers hit the lead for the first time when Cleary offloaded the ball at close range to a rampaging Viliame Kikau who could not be stopped at close range.

In a tense final few minutes the Panthers were able to retain the lead and at full time had made a statement by knocking off the defending premiers in the opening round.

WINS | [2020] Round 2: Penrith 32 St. George Illawarra 28

Friday 20th March at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Penrith 32: Tries: Cleary (1), Crichton (1), Kikau (1), Koroisau (1), Naden (1); Goals: Cleary (6) | St. George Illawarra 28


In an empty venue due to the Covid-19 crisis and in warm conditions, the Panthers opened the scoring just after the 10-minute mark when Apisai Korisau barged over from close range at dummy half.

Minutes later this was extended to 12-0 when Nathan Cleary broke the line at close range and crossed over.

However, the Dragons would hit back with three unanswered tries to take a 16-12 lead at half time.

The Panthers would strike back eleven minutes after the resumption when Cleary poked through a kick into the in goal, and the bounce of the ball saw the Dragons fail to clean it up and Brent Naden was the first to ground it in the in goal, with Cleary’s conversion giving the visitors a 18-16 lead.

But once again the home team struck back with two tries to hold a 28-18 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining.

In the 68th minute, the Panthers reduced it to 28-24 when a hail mary pass from Josh Mansour in heavy traffic was picked up by Viliame Kikau who then monstered himself over the line.

Minutes later Penrith would tie it all up when Stephen Crichton broke the line 35 metres out from their try line, found Liam Martin in support on his outside and then stayed in support, taking the pass from Martin ten metres out and having an uninterrupted passage to the line and planting the ball under the uprights. Cleary’s extras gave the Panthers a 30-28 lead.

A penalty conversion by Cleary pushed it out to 4.

With only seconds remaining, the Dragons had one last chance to at least force the match into golden point when they grubbered it into the in goal, but it was taken by Crichton who managed to run the ball back into the field of play, and then running down the clock to cap off a see sawing battle.

SEASONS | 1995


22 matches: 9 wins, 13 losses

Top point scorer: Ryan Girdler – 150 [10 tries, 55 goals]

Top try scorer: Robbie Beckett, Gary Freeman and Ryan Girdler – 10

Player of the year: Steve Carter


1995 dawned as a new era, with the newly formed Australian Rugby League (ARL) competition seeing the premiership expanded to 20 teams, and with that a newly expanded top 8 finals series.

After reaching the quarter finals in the pre-season Toohey’s Challenge, the Panthers opened the premiership season with a victory over Parramatta at home, followed by a loss to the Raiders and then a comfortable win over South Queensland to round out the first month of the season.

Although it had been brewing ‘behind the scenes’ for a number of months, in April was the revelation that a rebel competition was planned to start in 1996, with a number of players as well as teams having signed up within the first few weeks. Although it had been initially assumed that the Panthers were to ‘stay loyal’ with the incumbent ARL, in May it was announced that Penrith were to join the rebel competition. The main reason was quite clear – there was a greater assurance that the Panthers would have a more secure future, particularly if there was to be a reduction of teams later in the decade. This decision had left a number of players who had earlier signed with the ARL in a challenging position. A number soon switched to the Super League however two players had decided to remain with the ARL – one was Brad Fittler and the other was Matt Sing. Both would leave the Panthers at the end of the season.

On field, Penrith’s form dipped with a five-match losing streak after Round 4, although three of these losses were by 3 points or less. The pendulum soon swung back the other way, winning 6 of their next 7 in a mid-season run that saw the Panthers rise up to ninth and just outside the top 8. However once again it would swing back the other way with a six-match losing streak – the third in this stretch, which was a narrow loss to the Broncos in Brisbane finally snuffed out any feint chances the Panthers had to make a return to finals football.

The Panthers season finished on a bright note with a win over the Eels.

PLAYERS | David McLean


Panther 412

10 matches [2001; 2003-2005]

4 points [1 try]


Parramatta junior who made his NRL debut with Balmain in 1998.

He later joined Penrith, making his club debut for Penrith in 2001 coming off the bench against the Sharks in Round 6.

His opportunities in the top grade would be limited in the coming seasons, with solitary appearances in both 2003 and 2004 and in the meantime being captain of the St. Mary’s-Penrith Cougars in the NSWRL Premier League.

In 2005 however he earned some more consistent time in the NRL, making 7 appearances that were spaced out throughout the season. Although primarily a forward his one starting appearance for the Panthers that year was in the centres.

At season’s end he left the Panthers, taking up the role of captain-coach of Berkeley Eagles in the Illawarra competition. In 2007 he was crowned the player of the year by the Country Rugby League, and later joined Ourimbah in the Central Coast competition where he played out his career. Post career he has stayed on the Central Coast and has been involved with coaching with a number of clubs.

PLAYERS | Justin Holbrook


Panther 411

8 matches [2001]

4 points [1 try]


Half who made his first-grade debut for Newcastle in 1999. Seeking greater opportunities after making just five appearances across two seasons, he signed with the Panthers for the 2001 season.

He made his club debut for Penrith in the second round, coming off the bench. Soon after he was elevated to the starting number 7, where he scored his only try in their upset win over the Roosters, however his tenure would be short with his last NRL appearance being in Round 11.

In 2002, he went to the Sydney Roosters, where once again his opportunities would be limited and soon after he retired from playing.

Post retirement he entered coaching, firstly in the lower grades with a number of NRL clubs before being appointed head coach with St. Helens in 2017. Based on his successes in the Super League, he was signed by the Gold Coast Titans to be their new coach from 2020 onwards.

PLAYERS | Craig McMahon


Panther 167

32 matches [1979-1982]

27 points [9 tries]


Utility back who made his first-grade debut for Penrith in 1979 when he came off the bench in their victory over Canterbury at Penrith Park. It would be his solitary appearance for that season.

Over the next three seasons he would make a total of 31 appearances, primarily on the wing and in 1981 he crossed for six tries.

His final appearance in first grade was midway through the 1982 season.

WINS | [2014] Round 22: Penrith 16 St. George Illawarra 4

Sunday 10th August at WIN Stadium

Penrith 16: Tries: Docker (1), Idris (1), Segeyaro (1); Goals: Soward (2) | St. George Illawarra 4


The Dragons opened the scoring with an unconverted try to lead 4-0.

When James Segeyaro burrowed over from what was a standing start about 10 metres out it tied it up at 4-all and Jamie Soward’s conversion gave the visitors a 6-4 lead. Despite their best efforts to add to the lead, with denied tries and unsuccessful field goal attempts, it would remain 6-4 at half time.

Soon after the resumption Adam Docker ran a hard and straight line at close range and was rewarded accordingly with a try with Soward’s extras giving Penrith a 12-4 lead.

The Panthers second half defensive effort was resolute, repelling a number of Dragons attacking raids at close range and inside the last 10 minutes the visitors crossed for their third try, this time to Jamal Idris. Soward’s boot once again added the extras and they would leave Wollongong with a well-earned 16-4 victory.

Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic