SEASONS | 1998

1998

24 matches: 8 wins, 14 losses, 2 draws

Top point scorer: Ryan Girdler – 134 [11 tries, 45 goals]

Top try scorer: Robbie Beckett – 12

Player of the year: Matt Adamson

Stats: http://mightypanthers.webs.com/season1998.htm


The reunification of the two competitions at the end of 1997 saw Penrith become one of twenty teams in the new National Rugby League (NRL) premiership. This reunification was subject a further reduction of teams in 2000 to 14. Each of the 20 teams would be assessed on various items such as sponsorship, crowds, on-field success and the like, with financial incentives given to teams that would merge. Almost immediately the Panthers were plunged into a battle for long term survival, and fight to be one of teams to make the cut.

The new era would start with a loss against western Sydney rivals Parramatta. Two weeks later, Penrith annihilated the Adelaide Rams 54-12 in what would be a then club record (which would be broken again the following season.

However, a promising start after a month soon nosedived, winning only two of their next twelve matches and had fallen to 17th. One of these losses would be marked as one of the darkest moments in the on field history of the club – in late May, the Panthers had what was thought to be an unassailable 26-0 half time lead over North Queensland, only for the Cowboys to hit back in the second half and ultimately record a 36-28 loss. At the time, it was the biggest ever comeback from a deficit (to only be equalled eleven years later by the Panthers).

On field form and an ever-growing injuries list contributed to the decline down the ladder. The losing streak was broken by a draw against competition leaders Newcastle at Penrith, and whilst out of finals contention by that time marked the start of a positive final two months, in which the Panthers only lost twice and finished the season with victory over Western Suburbs at Campbelltown – the only victory away from Penrith recorded for that year.

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