The collective noun for a group of panthers is a claw, but a panther’s claw has never been observed in the wild.

That’s because panthers are solitary creatures. They don’t travel in packs – unless, of course, they’re the kind of panthers that come from Penrith.

Betting on Penrith has been an easy way to make money for the past two and a half seasons, so in hindsight it shouldn’t be too surprising that New South Wales came out on top after betting their Origin lives on a particular Panthers claw .


Brad Fittler picked seven current Panthers for Origin II in Perth, and debutant Matt Burton had an eighth player known at the foot of the mountains, but he didn’t just entrust the fate of the series to some of the best players from the most dominant side of the NRL – he let the Blues mimic the best of Ivan Cleary’s relentless winning machine.

There is no secret of what Penrith does or how they do it. For all of their recent wins, the recipe is often the same, and it’s one that the Blues followed to the letter in their 44-12 win.

It didn’t happen from the opening whistle. There was real pressure on New South Wales heading into this match – the blades had come out after their shock loss in Sydney and the heat had applied after Fittler’s litany of team changes.

So for starters, the Blues were a little hectic, a little insecure about themselves. They knew what they wanted to do, but getting there was a challenge.

Through those many Panther connections, they got to the place they needed to find.

The Blues didn’t have a great time in Game II from the start.Getty Images: Mark Kolbe

It was through Burton’s sharp chase to a clever Cleary kick for their first attempt, and Jarome Luai and Burton who came together to corner Brian To’o for their second attempt.


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