A powerful second-half surge from the Penrith Panthers has inspired a remarkable comeback victory over the Newtown Jets, with an enthralling 28-24 victory helping extend their lead on top of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder.
Early signs worried the visitors with two tries within a relentless three minute period giving the Jets a comfortable 24-10 lead shortly after half-time, but the Panthers responded with three tries in 11 minutes stealing an emphatic win in front of approximately 7000 fans at Henson Oval.
Five-EIghth Adam Keighran stole the show with two impressive solo tries galvanising the ladder-leaders, while Kyle Flanagan and Kurt Dillon starred for the Jets despite the painful defeat.
The Panthers dominated proceedings early in the contest with some quick thinking from Keighran saw the crafty five-eighth dart through some flimsy Jets defence for the first try of the afternoon.
They had a golden opportunity to extend their lead with back-to-back sets on the Jets goal-line just moments after scoring their first, but the resilient defensive efforts from Newtown were enough to keep them at bay.
Kurt Dillon ignited the Jets with a barnstorming carry helping the front-rower crash over to score rigt under the goal-posts, but not before an explosive run out of dummy-half from Blayke Brailey that gave the Jets a wave of momentum.
Flanagan took it upon himself to give his side the lead with a magical solo run helping the dynamic halfback slice his way through a host of clutching Penrith defenders to set the Henson faithful alight.
He converted his own try to take a 12-6 lead after 25 minutes of play.
But a try to Christian Crichton in the right-hand corner ensured the Panthers would remain firmly in the contest despite conceding two tries in quick succession, with Keighran unable to convert from out-wide as the Jets held onto a slim two-point advantage.
The Panthers had countless attempts to snatch back the lead with some threatening attacking raids on the Jets goal-line, but their efforts were to no avail as Newtown were able to hold onto their 12-10 lead at the break.
The Jets got off to a blistering start in the second stanza with two rapid-fire tries to Jaimin Jolliffe and Wesley Lolo in the moments just after half-time, with Joliffe sneaking his way over from close-range before Lolo strolled over untouched courtesy of a late offload from his inside man.
The Panthers fought valiantly in their attempts to reduce the deficit with some chances of their own to reduce the deficit, and they eventually reaped the rewards when Siosifa Talakai barged his way over from a crucial try.
The Jets held onto their eight-point buffer in the period following through the classy kicking game of Flanagan, but after a strong carry from Penrith back-rower Cory Waddel broke the Jets defence before Keighran again took full advantage of the momentum with a clever kick and regather sending him over for his second four-pointer.
A penalty on the ensuing set quickly saw the Panthers go on an unstoppable rampage through the middle-third, with Wayde Egan capitalising shortly after with a brilliant dummy fooling the Jets defence for the match-winning try.
The Panthers held onto their slender four-point lead throughout a dramatic final 10 minutes, with the Jets unable to claw back from the jaws of defeat in the dying stages despite their best efforts.
Match: Jets v Panthers
Round 20 -
Venue: Henson Park