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Penrith back on top

23/08/2003 07:27:36 PM Comments (0)

Rhys Wesser surged back to the top of the try-scoring charts as Penrith clinched a spot in the top four with a 44-28 National Rugby League win over Wests Tigers in a try-fest at Penrith Stadium.

The Panthers are on 36 points following the nine-try romp, two points clear of the Sydney Roosters, who play Manly on Sunday.

The two clubs are set to fight out the minor premiership.

Penrith scored the opening try in the 10th minute and led 22-0 at the break after a five-try opening half, with Wesser helping himself to a double.

The flying fullback pulled alongside fellow try magnets Nigel Vagana and Billy Slater in the 20th minute with his 19th of the season, taking a Luke Priddis pass to stroll over.

Four minutes later he was in for his 20th after Luke Rooney stormed down the left hand side of the field and found Wesser in support to make the score 14-0.

There were more points in the Panthers and they added another two tries before halftime, with Luke Lewis stealing a Craig Gower bomb from the grasp of Tigers winger Luke Covell and Rooney scoring himself after a Ryan Girdler bust.

Paul Whatuira and Luke Lewis crossed early in the second half to make the score 32-0 before the Tigers finally managed a reply in the 54th minute when John Wilson surged over.

Six minutes later 18-year-old debutant Bryce Gibbs scored with his first touch in the NRL, beating three Penrith defenders to make the core 32-10, Covell converting to make the difference 20 points.

Wilson crossed for a second and teenage sensation Benji Marshall scored his first try in the NRL in the 72nd minute to make the score 38-22, but Lewis went on a 50 metre run beating four defenders to end the Tigers' short-lived comeback and score the 14th try of the match.

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