SEASONS | 1999


24 matches: 11 wins, 12 losses, 1 draw

Top point scorer: Ryan Girdler – 229 [18 tries, 77 goals, 3 field goals]

Top try scorer: Ryan Girdler – 18

Player of the year: John Cross


With the merger between St. George and Illawarra as well as the Adelaide and Gold Coast teams winding up their operations, the 1999 season would be a 17-team competition, which would be further reduced to 14 come 2000. The Panthers entered the 1999 season with an air of uncertainty about their future beyond 1999 given that it was struggling with some of the assessment criertia.

Despite a heavy opening round loss to Melbourne, the Panthers won their next 6 in a row, which included a club record 60-6 win over Western Suburbs and by May were second on the ladder behind the Sydney City Roosters, and at the midway point were in the top 4.

However, the second half of the season would see the Panthers premiership fortunes dip, winning only 4 of 13 matches. Penrith were handed what was soon seen as an anomaly in the draw, playing a number of teams that were fresh after enjoying the bye the previous week. Whilst frustrating, a mounting injury toll was more of a contributing factor. With four rounds remaining, the Panthers were mathematically still a chance of making a late surge back into the eight, but a narrow loss to the Eels in an ill-tempered clash at Parramatta Stadium appeared to snuff out their season.

The following week, 1991 premiership captain Greg Alexander played his last premiership match at Penrith as the Panthers defeated the Raiders 33-14, and the following week a season that started with much promise finished with barely a whimper when thrashed by the Sharks who minor premiers.

It would be a breakout year for Ryan Girdler – he would break the club record he set in 1997 for most points in a season, with 229 – which also crowned him the premiership’s top point scorer. His form was rewarded by being selected for both New South Wales and Australia.

With the rationalisation window fast approaching for 2000, there were preliminary discussions with Parramatta with the intention of creating a merged western Sydney club. However the talks broke down and a series of mergers allowed Penrith to keep their heads above the water and in October it was announced that they had just made the cut and would be invited, fully intact, into the 14-team premiership in 2000.

Last edited 6 March 2020


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