The Wentworthville Magpies have gone down in a nail-biting, scrappy affair at Penrith Stadium, suffering a 10-8 defeat tonight.
There were a handful of Eels players looking to push their claims for a first grade spot with Bevan French, Josh Hoffman, Kane Evans, David Gower, Maika Sivo and young forwards Salesi Fainga’a, Oregon Kaufusi and Stefano Utoikamanu all named for the Magpies.
The Magpies were the first to put points on the board, when in the 11th minute of play, centre Ethan Parry barged his way over the line from 10m out. A powerful surge from the young outside back carrying Panthers defenders over the line giving the away side a 4-0 lead.
It took ten minutes for the Panthers to strike back, when a simple run from Matheson Johns saw the forward cross close to the line before Jed Cartwright converted the try from the sidelines to give the home side a two point lead.
The Panthers scored their second of the half when winger Brian Too somersaulted his way over the line, finishing off a slick backline movement down the Panthers right edge to score an unconverted try.
With just a minute remaining in the half, a strong defensive effort from winger Maika Sivo forced his opposite number into touch and gifted the Magpies possession just 20m out.
A strong charge back on the inside from back rower Salesi Fainga’a found his way crashing over the line, before an unsuccessful conversion as the half time siren rang saw the Magpies head to the sheds trailing by two points.
The second half saw both sides step up another gear with defence becoming their main focus.
Both teams controlled the ball when in possession and looked to hurt with brutal defence.
The Magpies saw Bevan French, Josh Hoffman, Jaeman Salmon and Maika Sivo interchanged for the final forty, seeing the Magpies lose a wealth of strike power in attack.
Back and forth football from both sides saw the next 30 minutes of play saw the scoreboard unchanged but the Panthers looked to break the stalemate when their left winger found open space and a hand a simple draw and pass to put his support player under the posts, but the pass went to ground and the Magpies survived.
The errors begun creeping into the game in the final ten minutes, and it looked like the Magpies had claimed the lead when centre Josh Minhimmick dove over the line, but a lost ball call over the line saw the opportunity go begging.
The Penrith Panthers hanging on for the final few minutes of play to grind out a 10-8 victory, two tries a piece.
Wentworthville Magpies 8 (Tries: Ethan Parry, Salesi Fainga’a)
Penrith Panthers 10