Trent Robinson has declared Penrith are a better side than the Sydney Roosters ‘at the moment’ after witnessing his team suffer a comprehensive 32-12 loss at the hands of the runaway leaders.
However, the coach was defiant in defeat as he noted his side were “ready to play and get it on” until defensive lapses ultimately cost them the game.
The Tricolours began the match with plenty of intent, yet it was Penrith who eventually drew first blood after Isaah Yeo skipped across the face of the defence and delivered a perfect short ball to send Scott Sorensen racing into the backfield.
The backrower was ankle tapped by James Tedesco, but it wasn’t enough to stop him promoting the ball to Jarome Luai who was rushing up in support.
That try created an avalanche of points in a ten-minute spell before half time that proved decisive in the end.
“There were lapses in the 29th and 33rd minute and then the one right on half time,” Robinson said.
“It felt like we were ready for the contest there. We were getting the job done.
“I said to the boys those games…they’re 12-all games going down into the 70th minute and then you work out who is going to win from there, if you’re really fair dinkum,” he said.
Luai hurt the Roosters for a second time in a few minutes when he danced through some feeble attempted tackles, before planting the ball down for his double. At that point, the Chooks looked unable to stem the bleeding as Penrith swung the momentum heavily in their favour.
Once again, it was that man Luai who haunted the Roosters as his grubber kick into the in-goal trapped Sam Walker. There was only a minute left on the clock and the Panthers appeared to be working towards a field goal attempt.
However, Api Koroisau fooled just about everyone in the stadium when he sensed the defence rushing off their line to exert pressure on Nathan Cleary. Instead, he went himself and burrowed over from close range to put Penrith 18-0 up at the break.
— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2022
“There’s very few defensive errors and that’s what the game should look like, but we just couldn’t hold on to that tonight,” Robinson said.
“If we’re going to be the team that we want to be, that needs to be nil all at half time.”
The Panthers had won 44-games straight when leading at the interval and showed no signs in the second half of ever relinquishing that record or their advantage.
“In that first half, we were sort of in that ding-dong back and forth,” Tedesco said.
“It felt like we were in the game and then it was just a few defensive lapses. Especially in these big games, that’s all it takes.
“I feel like we can go toe-to-toe with them,” he added.
The Roosters sought to apply pressure in the second half, as they desperately looked for openings back into the game.
However, Penrith absorbed all they had to throw at them with great cover defence, before hitting on the counter through Stephen Crichton.
The young star – who is almost assured of a spot in the NSW team following Tom Trbojevic’s injury – raced 100m to score. At that stage, Penrith had yet to even register a single tackle in the Roosters half throughout the opening 20 minutes of the second stanza.
— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2022
Robinson was quick to give credit to Ivan Cleary’s men, while remaining bullish about his side’s ability to learn from the experience and improve.
“They’re a better side than us, at the moment,” he said.
“It was a good lesson, whether you’re disappointed or whatever it is. We need to pick that up.
“We need to create a bit more early in the set and then profit on the small cracks we saw. We weren’t seeing them as much as what we wanted, but that’s credit to the opposition.”