Panthers and Eels All Square After 80 Minutes
Saturday 23 February 2013 8:03 PM
The Panthers looked to complete their 2013 trial matches with a third consecutive win at Centrebet Stadium against the Parramatta Eels. Terrible weather during the earlier matches left the playing field very slippery and greasy. The rain however, managed to ease as the players took to the field.
The Panthers started the game well, holding on to the ball and were able to force a goal line drop- out on the back of a nice grubber form Lachlan Coote. They attacked down the left edge but Naiqama couldn’t handle a pass and the first error from the Panthers let the Eels off the hook. Some undisciplined defence saw the Eels receive their first penalty and on the back of that set, managed to score the first points of the match, Hayne taking a Sandow kick out of the air and crashing over just left of the posts.
The rain only held off until the 11th minute and with it, made the match conditions even tougher for the players. A ruck penalty conceded by the Eels gave the Panthers good field position and from a Coote bomb and Mansour take, it looked as if the Panthers would score but some scrambling defence denied the Panthers. Tim Grant was strong up front early with some damaging runs, and despite the rain both sides showed good ball control and played end to end football. A dangerous tackle on Nathan Smith put the Panthers on the attack but a knock on early in the tackle count put a stop to the attacking raid.
On the 20 minute mark coach Ivan Cleary made some changes to the team with Segeyaro, Plum and Latimore entering the game. With Parramatta working the ball out from their own end, a wayward offload was picked up by Naiqama who raced 40 metres un-touched to score under the sticks, his conversion levelled the scores at 6 all.
The conditions finally started to take a toll on the match and some scrappy play form both sides saw multiple errors and little chances to score. A mid-field bomb by the Eels resulted in a tough knock on call against Simmons as the ball appeared to travel backwards. The Eels managed to spread the ball wide and cross in the corner. An unsuccessful conversion from Sandow saw the Eels lead 10-6 with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
With 2 minutes left in the half, Segeyaro and Matt Ryan exchanged pushes and the Panthers received a penalty. Coote was able to force another goal line drop-out through a nicely weighted grubber kick, however the Panthers were unable to capitalise and they headed to the sheds trailing 6-10.
The rain cleared temporarily to start the second half and on the back of repeated infringements Matt Ryan from the Eels was sent to the sin-bin. Played in front of 4267 fans who braved the horrible conditions the crowd started to come into the game, urging the Panthers to score. Some poor handling continually let them down and Parramatta was able to hold firm with 12 men.
The game continued to develop into an arm wrestle with neither side looking like crossing the line. The Eels had the best chance of the second half as a nicely placed kick saw Whare gather the kick inches from the sideline and in the greasy conditions he was forced into touch. The Panthers defence stood tall and denied the Eels.
The game sprung to life on the 60 minute mark as Tim Grant and Tim Mannah had a fiery confrontation, players came running in form everywhere and once they were separated the Panthers received a penalty. Both sides continued to be troubled by the conditions and as a result their ball control suffered. With time ticking away and no points added in the second half the Panthers were desperate to score. With 14 minutes remaining it looked as if Josh Mansour had done so, only for it to be called back for an obstruction.
As the game headed into the final stages the Panthers looked the stronger team and a half break to Kingston put them on the attack. A bomb on the last saw Simmons leap highest and as he was coming to ground he lost the ball over the try line. A second 40/20 to the Eels put the Panthers under the pump in defence but the team showed good communication and commitment, and were able to keep the Eels at bay.
With the clock now a real enemy of the Panthers, a grubber on the last by Simmons couldn’t be handled and a great opportunity was presented to attack. With 3 minutes on the clock and starting the set 15 metres out, the Panthers spread the ball to the left, Segeyaro drawing the defence in and then passing to Humble who chipped a pin point kick to Simmons to score in the corner. Naiqama stepped up with 1 minute left but his conversion sailed to the right of the posts. The Panthers had one last chance for victory and a break down the right touchline by Simons saw him kick the ball forwards, the bounce however wasn’t kind to the Panthers chasers and the siren sounded to finish with the sides locked at 10 all.
The final score was a fair reflection of the game, the conditions hampered the attacking play from both sides. Coach Ivan Cleary said “It was a pretty slow old game, obviously the weather didn’t help things. I thought the play the ball was very slow tonight, you could see the referees getting a bit frustrated in the second half. We just struggled to get any kind of fluency or momentum in attack, and they were probably the same.”
The Panthers have now completed their 2013 trial matches and will have next weekend off before they open their season against the Raiders at Centrebet Stadium on Sunday 10th March.