The Mighty Panthers have tonight proved they are a force to be reckoned with, after beating the Bulldogs 18-16 thanks to a try and a phenomenal kick from Matt Moylan in the final minute of the match!
Just when all seemed lost for the Mountain Men, they pulled off the impossible… Trailing by four points with 60 seconds on the clock, Jamie Soward set Kevin Naiqama up for a try that tied up the game, before Matt Moylan converted one of the hardest kicks he would ever have to take in his career.
Here’s how the game played out.
It was a match that had as many big hits as it had mistakes, and these two sides went hammer and tong at each other for the full 80 minutes, never letting the other get too far ahead. When one side let their guard down and got sloppy, the other took full advantage!
There were a few last minute changes to the side, with Josh Mansour out with a hamstring strain, and Peter Wallace succumbing to a groin issue. That made way for Dave Simmons who returned on the wing after a week off for a dislocated knee, and Isaac John who would round out the halves combo with Jamie Soward.
More than 13,000 people packed Sportingbet Stadium to watch Penrith open the scoring in electrifying style, when Jamie Soward put a high bomb over to the right side for Dave Simmons to pluck safely out of the air. As he was being tackled, he managed to flick the ball back to Dean Whare who dived up and over the top of a Bulldogs defender, and got the ball down in the corner just before taking out the post. Matt Moylan missed the sideline conversion, so the home side took an early 4-0 lead.
We almost had our second try 10 minutes later, when Jamie Soward got a brilliant ball to Adam Docker who ploughed his way through the Bulldogs pack, but he lost the ball just as he was falling over the line.
Penrith was playing some extremely good footy, completing sets, making very few mistakes and forcing plenty of errors from the opposition. Elijah Taylor and Adam Docker were all over the park in defence, while Matt Moylan and Nigel Plum were pushing hard towards our line.
Our second try came courtesy of more Dave Simmons brilliance on the right wing in the 21st minute, again off a high bomb which he collected mid-air, before planting his feet down and then the ball. This time Moylan’s kick was on target, and the Mountain Men extended their lead to 10-0.
The Bulldogs hit back with 14 minutes left on the clock, when their halfback Trent Hodkinson collected a pass from Josh Morris near the sideline (a pass some would have called forward!), and sprinted 25m down the field to beat Penrith’s wingers to the line. He converted his own try and the score went to 10-6.
Dave Simmons was almost part of yet another try for the home side, after Sowie put in a kick chase from the centre of the field, ran 20m before putting in another high bomb to the right side. Simmons picked it up and sprinted for the line but as he dived for the corner, he was taken out of play by a Bulldogs defender, and it was play on with 7 minutes until the half time siren.
For the rest of the half, play continued in the centre of the field with both teams desperately trying to get up their end of the field. But they were defending as well as they were attacking, and despite a few breaks, nobody made too much ground.
HALF TIME: 10-6 Panthers
The second half began a little scrappier than the first, with a few mistakes from both sides forcing multiple turnovers. Penrith was first to put points on the board with a penalty kick in the 49th minute, after Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds tackled Elijah Taylor before he was passed the ball. Moylan was spot on with the kick, and Panthers extended their lead to 12-6.
There were a few nervous moments a couple of minutes later when the Bulldogs put a bomb over to the right corner, Jamal Idris and Kevin Naiqama went for it but it bounced off them and into the arms of Doggies prop James Graham, who sprinted for the line but dropped the ball just before planting it down. In the Bulldogs next set, Adam Docker was placed on report for a careless tackle on Graham.
For the next 15 minutes, both sides tried their hardest to get the ball up their own end, and in the 65th minute, the Bulldogs finally got the break they had been waiting for, catching our left side off guard and drawing them in, before Josh Reynolds passed the ball out wide to Corey Thompson who dived over near the corner post. The conversion was on target, and the Bulldogs had levelled the scores 12-12.
They backed that up 5 minutes later when the ball was sent to the other side of the field off the back of a scrum, where Reynolds was waiting to take the ball out of the air and run it over the line. The kick was off target, so for the first time in the game the Bulldogs took the lead 16-12.
As the clock ticked down and Penrith took any chance they could to put more points on the board, it seemed as though they may have succumbed to the strong and relentless Doggies pack. But with 60 seconds remaining in the game, Sowie got a magnificent pass away to Kevin Naiqama on the wing, stepped inside a Bulldogs defender and dived over the line to score! The crowd went wild! The Panthers had tied the game up, and it would all come down to Matt Moylan’s kick.
With the entire stadium behind him, Moyza lined the ball up from the sideline and took a deep breath. Everyone was on their feet and you could cut a knife through the tension in the stadium. With his team mates anxiously watching on, and the Doggies waiting at the end of the field, he stepped back and took the kick, sending it straight through the uprights for the win! The stadium erupted! Youngster Matt Moylan had just won the match for the Panthers!
FULL TIME: 18-16 Panthers