The match was the last for the Warriors before finally returning to New Zealand for an emotional homecoming match against Wests Tigers in two weeks after being forced to stay in Australia since the start of the 2020 premiership due to COVID-19.
In just their second match since Stacey Jones took over the coaching reins from Nathan Brown, the Warriors showed some resolve and improvement on last weekend's 38-16 loss to the Sharks but they were no match for Penrith.
The Panthers scored seven tries to one and were never really threatened as they head to a week off due to representative round with just one loss in 15 matches this season and a four point break from the second-placed Melbourne Storm.
However, there will be no time off for most of the Penrith players as they have been rewarded for their form with 14 of the 17 players involved in the defeat of the Warriors called up for Origin or Test duty next weekend.
- The Panthers committed a higher than average number of first half errors but the Warriors did little to test their defence and failed to produce a line-break or off-load before halftime.
- In contrast, Penrith were prepared to chance their arm and prop Moses Leota, who was named in the Kiwis squad to play Tonga next weekend, scored the first try in the 15th minute after a dummy half break by Api Koroisau.
- Star Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards scored just five minutes later from a 30 metre scrum win after racing onto an inside ball from halfback Nathan Cleary and slicing between the defence to touch down.
- The closest the Warriors came to scoring in the first half was when fullback Reece Walsh combined with rookie halfback Ronald Volkman, who will play for Samoa against Cook Islands next Saturday, but was held up by Edwards.
- Trailing 12-0 against the NRL's most dominant team of the past three years, the Warriors probably would have been happy if that had remained the score at halftime but Penrith winger Taylan May delivered a crushing blow when he scored just before the interval.
- Fellow winger Brian To'o delivered the killer blow when he scored five minutes into the second half after Cleary and Edwards combined before centre Stephen Crichton put his NSW team-mate over with a no-look pass.
- Walsh was again the Warriors most dangerous player in the second half and broke into the clear only to lose the ball as the Stacey Jones-coached teams showed some fight until Isaah Yeo restored order for the Panthers in the 61st minute.
- Fellow Blues forward Liam Martin charged over the tryline three minutes later and the scoreline was suddenly 34-0 with so much time left on the clock stand-in coach Cameron Ciraldo was able to start resting stars like Yeo.
- Despite the scoreline, the Warriors did not give and Josh Curran scored just four minutes from fulltime after Walsh produced a 40/20 kick to put them in a good attacking position and then put the second-rower through a hole near the Penrith line.
Play of the game
The Panthers dominated the first half but only led 12-0 until winger Taylan May showed why he is in contention for the NRL rookie of the year award by stepping inside Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and pushing off Jack Murchie to score just before the interval.
What they said
"it was probably really hard for the boys. We had 14 guys knowing that they are going into rep teams next week so you can't underestimate how difficult that would have been, with things on their mind. There was probably a few distractions but I was really happy with how the guys went in the second half. It was just a really committed performance." Panthers assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo.
“We know that being away has been tough but we have had some wonderful support here from the Redcliffe locals. It is going to be very exciting for the group and where we are at the moment it gives us an opportunity to re-set ourselves. We're not in a good way at the moment with how we're playing, but this gives us a good opportunity to get back home and and try and play some good footy. We want to make people proud of what we do, and going home gives us the chance to do it.": Warriors coach Stacey Jones.
After more than 1,000 since their last match at Mt Smart Stadium, the Warriors are finally returning home to play Wests Tigers on Sunday, July 3, while the Panthers host the Roosters at Blue Bet Stadium on July 1.
The Warriors had hoped to be returning with a win in their last match but they can still expect a hero's welcome from league starved fans in Auckland on what is guaranteed to be an emotional day for the club.
Penrith will be aiming to maintain their four point buffer at the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder but will be sweating on the fitness of their 13 players involved in next weekend's representative round.
Fullback Dylan Edwards and interchange players Mitch Kenny and Jaeman Salmon were the only members of the team that beat the Warriors not selected to for State of Origin or Test duty.
Kenny was placed on report for a second half high shot on Jack Murchie, while Viliame Kikau will come under scrutiny by the match review committee for two shoulder charges.
Story first published on NRL.com