Penrith make it 20 straight NRL home wins

Scott Bailey |

Penrith can lay claim to being the hardest team to beat at home in more than 50 years after putting on a second-half clinic to dispose of Brisbane 40-12.

On an historic Friday night at Bluebet Stadium, the Panthers chalked up their 20th straight win at their home ground as part of a streak that dates back to August 2019.

It came as Nathan Cleary set up three tries before ending the night on report for dangerous contact on Billy Walters’ legs in a tackle.

The Panthers’ middle also had a field day, with Liam Martin, Spencer Leniu and Scott Sorensen all bagging tries and the latter having the finest game of his career.

Their domination overshadowed the excellence of Kotoni Staggs, with the Brisbane centre putting his hand up for Latrell Mitchell’s NSW State of Origin jersey.

Adam Reynolds also had his best night in Broncos colours, kicking nicely and laying on a try with his boot.

But it was one of the few bright spots for Brisbane, who lost Tesi Niu to a hamstring injury but only trailed 12-6 at halftime despite Payne Haas headlining a glut of missing stars.

Just as every other visiting team has discovered in the past 32 months, Brisbane learned the hard way any lapse will be capitalised on by Brisbane at home.

In a 10-minute period with Dylan Edwards and Keenan Palasia both sin-binned for slaps, Penrith ran in three tries to seize control.

So good is their winning streak, they become the first team since Manly between 1967 and 1970 to win 20 straight games at their home ground.

“This is a classic home ground, a suburban ground,” coach Ivan Cleary said.

“The fans are very passionate and there are a lot of them.

“The boys love playing here, always have, but at the end of the day it’s still the same size field with green grass.

“It doesn’t get it done for you.”

Nathan Cleary was again one of the stars in front of the 19,406 fans, just days after inking a new five-year deal alongside father Ivan.

The No.7 and his halves partner linked up for Penrith’s first try, with Jarome Luai making the most of a Viliame Kikau decoy run and stepping through a gap to hit back after the Broncos scored first.

Then Sorensen’s heroics began.

The forward burst through to make it 12-6 at halftime when he went 25 metres to score, and broke the line again in the second half.

That allowed Cleary to kick for a flying Taylan May on the next play, with the rookie winger now equal on seven with Ryan Papenhuyzen as the NRL’s leading try-scorer after just his fourth first-grade game.

Staggs meanwhile was easily the Broncos’ best.

The centre twice got on the outside of Izack Tago, setting up Brisbane’s first try when he found Niu back inside.

Staggs scored the visitor’s second try, running onto a Reynolds kick. 

But by that time, it was too little too late.

“There are better days ahead for the Broncos,” coach Kevin Walters said.

“We were in the fight for most the match.

“I thought Adam had his best game for the club … He controlled the game really well. His kicking was equal with Penrith’s.”