Dubbo’s Isaah Yeo shone for the Penrith Panthers on Friday night, leading the mountain men to a dominant 36-4 victory over the New Zealand Warriors.
Yeo was named to captain the side in the absence of five-eighth James Maloney (Origin duty) and the recently retired Peter Wallace, and well and truly repaid the faith.
The former St John’s junior led by example in the six-tries-to-one bloodbath, recording a team-high 33 tackles, zero missed tackles, 165 run metres (15 runs), 57 post-contact metres, two offloads and five tackle breaks.
The effort saw him awarded the VB Hard Earned man of the match.
Speaking to Panthers TV after the game, Yeo called the game “one of the proudest moments of my career”.
“It’s sort of a thing that I’ve tried to work on the last couple of years, my leadership and my talk,” he said.
“There’s a bit more pressure on you because you’ve got to make sure you’re backing up what you say.
“It’s a club that I love playing for … stoked to get the win.”
It was an understrength Panthers side taking the paddock, with Maloney, halves partner Nathan Cleary and centre Tyrone Peachey all out for Origin, and star forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard out with a broken jaw.
But the depth of the club came to the fore, with Tyrone May and Jarome Luai combining in the halves. The latter particularly shone, scoring two tries and a try assist in his first NRL game as a starting half.
From stats guru David Middleton. “The Panthers were the youngest team (average age 23 and 314 days) and most inexperienced team (only a total of 985 NRL games between them) of the NRL season so far. They defeat Warriors 36-4”— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) July 6, 2018
“I thought both of them were [really good] actually,” Yeo told Channel Nine commentator Darren Lockyer post-game. “Jarome got … all the points but I thought Tyrone May led us around the field well.
“We understood that with the young halves, there had to be a better platform laid … I think Viliame Kikau was outstanding … Trent Merrin, James Fisher-Harris, the whole pack, I think Jake Hetherington came on and was outstanding.
“The last few performances I don’t think summed us up as a side, so we had a big emphasis this week to come out there and not be out-enthused and work hard for each other and I thought we did that.”