HEAD TO HEAD | Perth Reds

4 matches [1995-1997]

2 wins, 2 losses

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_perth.htm

The Reds were one of the four newly admitted teams that started in the Australian Rugby League competition in 1995. Initially called the Western Reds, they were based at the WACA Ground.

In April 1994, the Panthers had defeated Balmain 24-0 in a Friday night match at the WACA.

Just over a year later, they had returned to play the Western Reds for the first time. The Panthers led 16-8 early in the second half, but would be run down by the home team, hitting the lead for the first time with six minutes remaining to win 18-16.

In 1996, the Reds would travel east to play at Penrith Stadium, where the Panthers would maul the visitors with a thumping 47-12 victory.

Both teams had sided with the Super League when the war broke out in April 1995, and would both meet in the opening round at Penrith Stadium. By then, the team from the west had been rebranded as the Perth Reds. With prodigal son Greg Alexander returning to Penrith after two seasons in Auckland, he scored a solo 70m try from the scrum base as the Panthers led 24-8 with 20 minutes remaining, only to hold out a fast finishing Reds outfit to win 30-20. Two months later, the Panthers travelled to Perth but would be at the end of a 35-20 loss.

At the end the season, the Reds would be axed from the competition due to soaring debts. With the players needing to find new teams, it saw the return of forward Mark Geyer to Penrith, one of the key members of the maiden premiership triumph who was released by the Panthers in 1992 and had been at the Reds since 1995.

As a postscript, the Reds re-emerged in 2006 as an entity in the third-tier Jim Beam Cup and in recent years, the WA Pirates have participated in the SG Ball (under 18s) competition – current centre Waqa Blake was recruited from the Pirates in 2012.

The Pirates may become much more in future years if the National Rugby League chooses to further expand the competition beyond the current 16 teams, with Perth seen as one of the most preferred locations for a new team.

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