In front of close to 14,000 people, the Panthers have won their fifth match in a row and retained their spot on top of the NRL ladder after beating the Dragons 18-14 at Sportingbet Stadium tonight.

Jamie Soward played a huge role in the win against his former club, and despite a few mistakes from both teams, it was a solid contest for the full 80 minutes.

We had confirmation an hour before kickoff that Kevin Naiqama would be coming in on the wing for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

The Panthers were first to put points on the board after several quick passes from the centre of the field out to the right, where Dean Whare found some space and barged his way through several defenders to get the ball over the line. Jamie Soward’s kick from the sideline went straight through the uprights, giving the home side a 6-0 lead.

In the 12th minute of play, The Dragons #11 Tyson Frizell had to be helped from field after landing awkwardly in a tackle, injuring his ankle.

Ten minutes later the Panthers were over again! Pete Wallace put a chip kick over to the right corner where Kevin Naiqama leapt up and batted the ball back to Whare, who plucked it out of the air and dived over the line. Sowie’s conversion was on target, extending Penrith’s lead to 12-0.

The Dragons came very close to getting their first points in the 28th minute, when Jason Nightingale chased a chip kick and almost had it grounded in the back corner. But on the video replay his foot was over the back line so play continued.

They eventually got their first try with five minutes on the clock, when the ball found an unmarked Charlie Runciman on the sideline, and he sprinted to the line to score. The kick was waved away though, so the score went to 12-4.

HALF TIME: 12-4 Panthers

Penrith got off to a horrible start this half, letting the Dragons in for another try in the first three minutes. A last minute pass from Adam Quinlan put Nightingale into some open space and caught the Panthers completely off-guard, and he dived over the line to score. The kick was on target this time, and St George narrowed the score to 12-10.

We made amends for a poor start with a try in the 53rd minute! Elijah Taylor started off a brilliant play, passing it to young Bryce Cartwright who offloaded to Isaah Yeo, who got the ball to Sowie, and with open space in front of him he took off down the field, passing to Josh Mansour who ran over to score. Sowie’s sent the ball straight through the posts and extended Penrith’s lead to 18-10.

The ball stayed up our end of the field for much of the remainder of the game, as we attacked our line and came close to scoring on several occasions. Then with two minutes on the clock, the Dragons scored again with Nightingale crossing for his second of the night. They took a quick kick which missed, so the score went to 18-14, with 90 seconds remaining.

Penrith played out the last set as the clock ticked down, and we walked away with our 5th win in a row.

FULL TIME: 18-14 Panthers