Last-gasp specialists Penrith have won with some comfort at last, pulling clear of the Warriors in a 30-18 NRL win in Christchurch.
Tyrone Peachey bagged three of the Panthers’ five tries, including two in the second half as his team stormed home in the final quarter.
Four points behind at halftime after playing into a strong wind, the Panthers finally wore the Warriors down, scoring the only three tries in the second spell.
The double-digit winning margin was a new experience for Penrith, whose nine previous games were all decided by eight points or less.
The result improves their win-loss record to 5-5, confirming their place in the top eight.
The Warriors drop to 4-6 and continue an alternating win-loss record over the past six rounds as they struggle to break into the top half of the table.
They made too many mistakes in the first half when they had the advantage of a howling northerly wind.
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin says his side handled the wind with some assuredness after choosing to play into it first.
“It was a strange game, I’ve never seen conditions like that before,” he said.
“The first half, we were just trying to hang on I suppose and get to halftime.
“Once the second half evolved, we were able to play a little bit of footy and put the game away.”
Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman lamented his team’s mistakes and some lax defensive work, but couldn’t fault their attitude.
“We’ve been accused a few times this year of not having effort but you couldn’t accuse us of that tonight,” he said.
“Effort doesn’t get you the two points though. Effort and execution does.”
The first NRL game in Christchurch for six years was a tense, unspectacular contest, in front of a packed crowd of nearly 18,000.
Impressive Warriors centre Solomone Kata used slick footwork close to the line to cross for the game’s first points.
The scores were level when teammate Shaun Johnson blundered, offloading the ball to nobody when being driven back towards his line, gifting a try to Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward.
Soward converted that try and another from Peachey before a slotting a penalty to put his team eight points ahead.
Possession balanced out and the Warriors capitalised with converted tries to Jonathan Wright and Blake Ayshford to lead 18-14.
That scoreline was unchanged for 30 minutes either side of halftime before Peachey bagged his second off a neat Matt Moylan injection.
Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived across from a blindside play before his goalline intercept sparked a sweeping set which ended with Peachey’s hat-trick.