Panthers rebound in emphatic style in Australia's NRL

By Associated Press 13 March 2017, 12:00AM

SYDNEY (AP) — Beaten badly in their opening match of the National Rugby League season, the Penrith Panthers bounced back in the second round with a similarly dominating performance over the favored Wests Tigers.

Center Dean Whare scored a pair of tries as the Panthers beat Wests 36-2, erasing some of the memories of the team's 42-10 first-round loss to the St. George Illawarra Dragons.

It was the first time in a year that the Tigers were held tryless in a match.

"Last week, we were very disappointed in the way we played," said Penrith coach Anthony Griffiin. "We had to lead this week with our defensive efforts if we were going to turn it around. That was the most pleasing part. It was just a really strong response."

In the only other match Sunday, the Dragons couldn't make it two wins in a row when they lost 34-16 to the Parramatta Eels.

Earlier in the second round, the losing coach and winning captain agreed: the NRL's golden point overtime format doesn't appear to be fair.

For the fourth time in five games, the Queensland state derby between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos was decided in extra time. Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston kicked an 88th-minute field goal before 47,700 fans in Brisbane to give North Queensland a 21-20 win.

"That's the tragedy of golden point. We deserved a point here tonight, we didn't deserve to come away with nothing," said Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, a long-time critic of the format.

Thurston agreed.

"I think it is a bit unlucky for the team that loses," Thurston said. "Someone who gets flogged by 40 gets no points, and someone who draws after 80 minutes gets no points. I am just glad we are on the right side of the scoreboard."

Thurston suggested the NRL adopt a system similar to that used by the National Hockey League when a game goes into overtime and/or a shootout — both teams are guaranteed one point, with the winning team getting a second point.

"I think that would be fairer," Thurston said.

Elsewhere, Newcastle broke a 19-match losing streak with a 34-26 win over the Gold Coast Titans, halfback Cody Walker scored one try and set up two others to lead South Sydney to a 38-18 win over Manly, and defending champion Cronulla Sharks rebounded from a first-round loss to beat Canberra 42-16.

The Sydney Roosters beat Canterbury 28-24, handing the Bulldogs their second consecutive loss, while the Melbourne Storm won their second in a row with a 26-10 decision over the New Zealand Warriors.

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith became the first forward in NRL history to score 2,000 points in his side's win over the Warriors. The 33-year-old hooker picked up 10 points at Auckland, taking him past the milestone in his 337th NRL game.

By Associated Press 13 March 2017, 12:00AM

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