The Penrith Panthers have won one of the games of the year in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, coming back from a half-time deficit to win a tough 18-16 encounter at Belmore Sports Ground.
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 15 -
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Lachlan Lewis was outstanding for the Bulldogs, but it was Tyrone May who eventually won the game for the Panthers with an outstanding second-half performance after his halves partner went down injured and the responsibility fell on his shoulders.
A fast start by the Bulldogs led to the first points of the game, giving themselves perfect opportunity with a 100-metre set. The next time they got the ball, Renouf To’omaga found space with a bullocking run and passed to a supporting Lewis who crossed for a try.
The middle period of the first half was high quality and end-to-end, with each side defending superbly by not letting anyone through. The Panthers forced a dropout during this time, and Lewis responded with an 87-metre dropout.
The brilliance and class of Jarome Luai broke the scoring drought, ducking and dancing his way through the middle of the field where he found space before passing to William Burns who crashed over next to the posts.
6-all looked to be the score heading into half-time, but an incredible play down the short side gave the Bulldogs the lead. After some second-phase play, Jayden Okunbor found a small amount of space, crashed into the defence with all of the momentum and threw an incredible out-the-back flick pass to Jarred Anderson, who raced away to the corner.
Penrith picked up the lead for the first time in the match 10 minutes into the second thanks to some nice play from Tyrone May, who drifted across-field, attracted the outside defender and therefore was able to put Liam Martin – who ran a brilliant line - through a hole.
Luai came off with what seems to be serious knee injury, but May took full control with his crafty halves partner off the field, once again setting up a try by this time throwing a brilliant pass to Sam Smith.
The Bulldogs had to be next to score to keep in touch with the game, and the ever-reliable Josh Cleeland made sure that happened by sharply stepping off his right foot, squeezing through the smallest of gaps and crashing over to reduce the deficit to two with 11 minutes remaining.
One of the most exciting pieces of play came in the final few minutes, with the Bulldogs putting an attacking bomb up that was allowed to bounce by Penrith. Lewis re-gathered and kicked into the in-goal area, and Penrith were just able to escape from the in-goal. Maika Sivo then made a line-break for the Panthers as they almost scored, before his side was caught on the fifth tackle.
The last few minutes of the game was a tale of 26 exhausted players on the field desperately trying to score points, but neither team did, and the Panthers finished an incredible game with a brilliant 18-16 victory.