Penrith posts big 2nd-half comeback in National Rugby League

SYDNEY (AP) The New Zealand Warriors might have thought their 22-point halftime lead over the Penrith Panthers was enough to cruise the rest of the way in their National Rugby League match on Saturday.

But the Panthers, losers of their last five matches and booed by their home fans at halftime, rebounded in the second half after trailing 28-6 and recovered to win 36-28 after scoring five unanswered tries.

Isaah Yeo scored either side of halftime before putting Waqa Blake through an opening, with the Panthers center running over the top of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to make it 28-24 after 56 minutes.

When Matt Moylan crossed in the 59th minute and Nathan Cleary kicked the subsequent conversion, the Panthers took the lead. Tyrone Peachey crossed four minutes from fulltime to clinch the Penrith win.

”It takes a real team effort and a tough team to come off the canvas like that,” Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said. ”We’re just finding way to get ourselves a long way behind on the scoreboard at the moment.”

In a Brisbane doubleheader on Saturday evening at Suncorp Stadium, the Gold Coast Titans also staged a big comeback to beat the first-placed Melbourne Storm 38-36 after trailing 36-28 with 10 minutes left. In the second match, the Brisbane Broncos made it two victories for Queensland state sides with a 24-14 win over the Manly Sea Eagles.

Five-eighth Michael Morgan set up four tries and scored North Queensland’s two others as the Cowboys beat the Canterbury Bulldogs 30-14. The Cowboys were playing without their star playmaker Johnathan Thurston, who has a shoulder injury.

”He stepped up tonight and ran the show and did a great job,” North Queensland coach Paul Green said of Morgan.

The defending champion Cronulla Sharks beat St. George Illawarra 18-14 after coming from behind in the final 10 minutes, clinching the match on Sosaia Feki’s 72nd-minute try for their sixth win in seven games. South Sydney defeated the Wests Tigers 28-8.

On Sunday, Newcastle hosts Canberra and the Sydney Roosters play the Parramatta Eels in Sydney to complete the 10th round.