Penrith Brothers poured on the pressure in the second half to snatch a 17-16 win over the Kaiviti Silktails in the Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup opening round at Cabramatta’s New Era Stadium.
After scoring two unanswered tries midway through the second half, halfback Immanuel Tagaloamatua sealed the win with a 73rd minute field goal.
The Silktails led 16-6 at halftime but errors started to creep in after the break.
Off back-to-back penalties to Penrith Brothers, the Silktails were forced to defend their goal-line through three sets.
Something had to give and Brothers fullback Elone Taufa found the hole through tired defence.
Eight minutes later and prop Denzal Tonise broke through and scores were tied up 16-16.
Up stepped the Penrith No.7 midway through a set and calmly potted an unexpected field goal.
The Silktails frantically shifted the ball down field as they searched for points in the final minutes but the clock was against them.
Forwards Makrau Fonmanu, Sirilo Lovokuro and Meli Nasua were stand-outs early, always making metres when they got their hands on the ball.
Nasua showed why he was Silktails 2022 Player of the Year with a searching run up the middle before putting hooker Rusiate Baleitamavua away for the opening try in the 12th minute.
Baleitamavua was in the thick of things five minutes later backing up Fonumanu after his line-break before switching play back inside to fullback Osea Natoga to score.
Goal-kicking winger Tsuyoshi Jennings was grateful for the put-downs near the posts to help his conversion attempts.
But the Silktails were kept scoreless in the second term as they struggled to get out of their own territory.
Silktails No.9 Baleitamavua was connected to all three first half tries – scoring the first, setting up the second and then crossing himself again for the third
Brothers No.9 Joseph Tramontana scoring his try late in the first half seemed to instil some spark in Penrith that the players brought back to the field in the second
Brothers half Tagaloamatua kicked two from three conversions and the winning field goal
Great sportsmanship from Silktails winger Tsuyoshi Jennings, who helped his opposite number Bilal Maarbani when he suffered cramp after they both contested a high ball
Immanuel Tagaloamatua suddenly stepping to his right to snap a field goal with seven minutes on the clock, when Penrith were getting the upper hand as they attacked a fatiguing Silktails line.
The Silktails will play their round two game against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday (25 March).
It will be the Silktails first home game in Fiji in Ron Massey Cup since round one in 2020, before the season shut-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They then spent the next two seasons based at Sydney’s Mascot Oval.
Penrith Brothers will play Ryde-Eastwood Hawks at Lidcombe Oval.