Departing Lewis feels added pain
WESTS TIGERS 26 PENRITH 18
Tigers dig deep to beat Panthers
Wests Tigers' Benji Marshall in action. Photo: Anthony Johnson
It’s been that type of week for Luke Lewis.
With the game against Wests Tigers in the balance and a big play required to seal it, it looked as though Lewis was the man to deliver in his 11th and last year at Penrith.
But just as he was poised to slam the ball down for the decisive try, Tigers fullback Tim Moltzen wrenched it from his grasp.
‘‘I’ve seen the line, I didn’t even see where he’d come from and thought, ‘Yeah, I’ve got it here’,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘The next thing I see his bloody leg (it appeared to be Moltzen’s hand) come through and knock it out. I’m a little bit dirty.’’
It was an unusual end to an unusual week. Lewis ran out without the captaincy or a club for next year against one of the teams vying for his services. The decision to part ways with his beloved Panthers had taken its toll.
‘‘It’s been a pretty hectic week for myself mentally,’’ he said.
‘‘It wasn’t probably my best preparation but when I got out on the field, everything went away ...
‘‘[The realisation of leaving] didn’t really hit me until tonight. With all the stuff that’s been playing on my mind, it didn’t hit me until I put on the gear. It’s going to be a bit of a heartbreaking experience not running out in the Penrith gear.
‘‘But I’ll be watching them with good intentions and wishing them all the best and following pretty closely as well. It’s a different outlook but I’ve got mates for life out here [at Penrith]. They’ll do well over the next couple of years.’’
Injury was added to insult, with the Australian back-rower copping a neck strain, although he’s confident he’ll be fit to take on the Roosters next week.
Lewis was always going to be the main story, but there were plenty of others in a thrilling affair at Campbelltown Stadium. Such as Keith Galloway playing through the pain of a ruptured AC joint to ensure his side wasn’t a man down. Or Chris Heighington sealing the result with a dummy and left-foot step.
Or Michael Jennings notching 16 tackle breaks in a peerless display. ‘‘He’s been really good the last few weeks and that’s the best game he’s played all year,’’ Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said.
In the end, the Tigers had that touch of class that’s the difference between being a contender and being just above Parramatta on the ladder. The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the joint-venture club and propels them into the top eight.
It seems we can’t have a game without a video-refereeing controversy and we got ourselves a humdinger here. The obstruction rule will again come under scrutiny after it appeared Moltzen was impeded during a Luke Walsh try.
‘‘I think the referee said, upstairs from what I heard, was ‘check to see if the fullback was obstructed’,’’ Tigers coach Tim Sheens said.
‘‘He looked obstructed to me ... when you get a replay, you’d like to think they’d get it right.’’
WESTS TIGERS 26 (R Farah L Fulton C Heighington C Lawrence B Murdoch-Masila tries B Marshall 3 goals) bt PENRITH 18 (K Kingston J Mansour L Walsh tries L Walsh 3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 12,384.