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Panthers Cleary didn’t see great Daine attack

Emma Pritchard

A coming-of-age performance by talented Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie, saw his NRL club hand competition leaders the Penrith Panthers their first loss of the season during their Round 13 match on June 4.

Despite missing several key players including star halfback Nathan Cleary to representative duties, the Penrith Panthers fielded a strong side for the highly anticipated clash of the big cats at Leichhardt Oval in front of more than 9000 vocal fans.

While Laurie, a former Grafton Ghosts and Lower Clarence Magpies player, has continued to impress coach Michael Maguire and Wests Tigers fans alike with his impressive attacking flare and fearless attitude on the field since signing with the 2005 Premiers earlier this year, it was his determined defensive effort that helped repel the understrength Panthers in a masterclass performance that inspired his teammates and sent the Leichhardt Oval faithful into a frenzy.

Laurie opened the scoring in the 15th minute off the back of a beautiful pass by Moses Mbye close to the line, that saw the fullback race clear to put the ball down untouched.

While he demonstrated a superb defensive play in the 32nd minute when he cut down a rampaging Robert Jennings inside the 10m line to deny the Panthers winger a try, it was Laurie’s courageous effort in the second half when he was tackled in the air by Viliame Kikau after diffusing a towering kick by stand in five-eighth Mitch Kenny that drew widespread admiration from his growing fanbase.

The Wests Tigers were awarded a penalty for the incident with several players including winger James Roberts, rushing in angrily in defence of their fullback.

As the Wests Tigers charged clear towards the end of the second half to win 26-6 and deny the Panthers their 28th consecutive regular season match win, the crowd loudly applauded Laurie for the tremendous game he played against his former club as several Panthers players who were unavailable for selection watched miserably from the sideline.

As diehard Wests Tigers fans showed their appreciation for Laurie and his teammates as they walked off Leichhardt Oval, they didn’t forget to remind Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, who coached their side in 2018 before famously getting off the bus, who had clearly taken home the two competition points that night