Penrith started the game strongly and raced out to a 14-2 lead. But the Tigers staged a comeback, posting four tries in a row before half-time.
22-14 up at the break, Wests continued the second half on fire.
Fullback James Tedesco was the chief architect of the Tigers’ assault.
Hardaker, who has joined the Panthers from Leeds, came off the bench for the final 29 minutes in the centres.
The England international almost scored a try in the 68th minute, but lost control of the ball as he crossed the lne.
— John Davidson (@johnnyddavidson) July 2, 2016
Hardaker made 68 metres from six runs, also making four tackles.
He tweeted after the game:
Privileged to get my 1st game in the NRL. Shame about the result but really enjoyed my 1st taste. Looking forward to next week now.