Penrith centre Dean Whare has carved up a hapless Kyle Lovett to help his side to a 35-12 victory over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers took full advantage of a game-ending ankle injury to Tim Simona in the first half, crossing for all six of their tries – four of them to veteran David Simmons – down the Tigers’ left corridor.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor threw Lovett onto the left edge but the rookie second-rower could only watch as the Panthers focused their attack exclusively down their right flank.
It was only when Simmons completed his second-half hat trick that Taylor finally pulled Lovett out of the firing line for the experienced Chris Lawrence.
But in front of a strong crowd of 14,234, the adjustment was too late for a Tigers side that were held scoreless after holding a 12-10 lead at the break.
The hosts opened the scoring when Lawrence latched onto a Robbie Farah grubber in the 16th minute.
However the visitors replied through the quick feet of Whare, who burned Lovett at halfway, the movement ending in Peter Wallace planting under the dot.
The Penrith skipper then nailed the club’s first 40-20 of the year, with Josh Mansour acrobatically diving over in the ensuing set.
The Tigers regained the lead minutes before halftime, only to relinquish it just after the resumption when a Panthers right-side swing gave Simmons his first.
Two more set pieces in the 51st and 62nd minutes allowed the 30-year-old to crack 100 tries in the NRL, before a Wallace field goal and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak try punctuated the win.
Simmons completed the rout with his fourth four-pointer on the full-time siren, and then converted his own try.
Penrith prop Jeremy Latimore and Tigers halfback Luke Brooks were both placed on report for an incident on the half-time buzzer. It wasn’t immediately clear what the pair had done.