In cold, wet and windy conditions at Sportingbet Stadium the Panthers have won a thrilling match against the Cowboys, stealing a 23-23 win with a Matt Moylan field goal in the dying minutes of the game.

The Penrith boys wore Indigenous inspired jerseys to mark Close the Gap round, while Jamie Soward and James Segeyaro had special Aboriginal theme boots for the occasion.

We got off to a horror start with several mistakes in the opening minutes of the match. It was one of these errors in the first set that handed the Cowboys their first try. We dropped the ball after they kicked on the 5th, which gave them a new set of six on their 10m line. After sending the ball wide to the left and drawing our wingers off their marks, centre Kane Linnett found a hole in our back line and ran straight through to score. Johnathan Thurston converted to give the visitors a 6-0 lead, 3 minutes into the match.

Penrith hit back in the 11th minute after Jamie Soward collected the ball in the centre of the field from 20m out and ran sideways around the back of the Cowboys’ defence before passing to young Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who took off towards the line and flicked the ball back to Soward, and he stepped around a North Queensland defender to dive over the line. The kick was waved away so the score went to 6-4.

The Panthers levelled the score in the 18th minute after being awarded a penalty right in front of the posts. Soward kicked for two to make it 6-6.

Penrith then took the lead 26 minutes in when some fancy footwork saw Soward cross for his second try of the night. After running the ball up to the line he dived forward, and as he was being tackled, he rolled backwards and planted the ball down over his left shoulder for the points. The kick was off target, so the score went to 10-6.

With 7 minutes until the half time break, we extended our lead when Jeremy Latimore crossed for a try. Soward put a high bomb up from 20m out and a group of players went for it, with Jamal Idris making contact and batting it back to Lats, who ran towards the line and dived just far enough to reach the ball out and over. Moylan kicked from in front to put Penrith ahead 16-6.

North Queensland scored their next try with just over 2 minutes on the clock in almost identical fashion to their first. They drew our defenders off their mark on the left side of the field and created enough space for Glenn Hall to run over and score. Thurston converted from in front to narrow the score 16-12.

HALF TIME: 16-12 Panthers

During the half time break the rain started to fall, making conditions a little soggy at Sportingbet Stadium. But that didn’t stop the Cowboys who crossed for their next try in the 44th minute, courtesy of a dropped ball from the Panthers. After starting their set from 30m out, they made their way up to the line where five-eight Robert Lui barged his way over under the posts. The kick put the visitors back in front 18-16.

But it wasn’t long before we were in front again after Soward intercepted a Cowboys pass and took off down the field, sprinting 60m before being brought down. North Queensland centre Matthew  Wright was sin binned for the tackle and Penrith made the most of the penalty, and the 12-man opposition. Once again it was Soward who set the try up, throwing a massive cut out pass from the middle of the field to Josh Mansour who was unmarked on the wing, and he ran the ball over to score. Moylan converted to give the Panthers a 22-18 lead, in the 52nd minute.

In the 69th minute North Queensland scored again to even the score at 22-22 after Antonio Winterstein was left unmarked on the wing, and he sprinted 20m down the sideline to dive over and score. Thurston missed the conversion so the score was all tied up.

As the clock ticked down, a Cowboys mistake forced a goal line dropout and handed Penrith possession when they really needed it. As we carried the ball up to our line, Soward set Moylan up for a field goal from 30m out, and he sent it straight through the posts to give us a 1 point win!

FULL TIME: 23-22 Panthers