A late lapse in concentration saw the table-topping Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side defeated by Wyong Roos 19-18 at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Roos playmaker Tyler Cornish nailed a field goal in the final minute of the game to steal the win after his side had trailed by 12 points midway through the second half.
Penrith got off to a poor start with the opening kick-off going out on the full. The home side then received consecutive penalties in the Panthers half which allowed them to gain momentum and valuable field position.
The Roos opened the scoring in the 7th minute as Lagi Setu broke the Panthers line and stepped past the last defenders to dive over. Cornish’s successful conversion put Wyong ahead 6-0.
The Panthers struck back in the 25th minute with a try to Tupou Sopoaga. The second rower charged his way through the Wyong defence from close range and planted the ball down. Will Smith kicked the conversion to level the scores.
Defending NSW Cup champions Penrith hit the lead in the 37th minute as Malakai Watene-Zelezniak hunted down a deft Will Smith grubber kick to the corner. Smith missed the conversion attempt but the away side led 10-6 as the first half came to a close.
HALF-TIME: 10-6 PANTHERS.
The Panthers extended their lead with a try to Smith in the 47th minute. The halfback forced his way over the line, shrugging off a few Wyong defenders on his way. He was unable to convert his own try but the lead was now out to eight points.
Penrith found their way to the try line again in the 59th minute. Adrian Davis scored after winger Eddie Aiono sprinted down the touchline, stepped inside and threw a short pass to the fullback. Smith again missed the attempted conversion but the Panthers led 18-6.
Wyong closed the gap in the 64th minute with a try by Eloni Vunakece. Cornish’s conversion was successful, reducing Penrith’s lead to six points.
The Roos were suddenly right back in the game when they scored again in the 73rd minute. Nathan Smith touched down as Wyong’s right-edge attack outnumbered the Panthers and took full advantage. Cornish missed the kick but the Penrith’s slender lead wasn’t to last much longer.
A few moments after the restart the Roos were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts. Cornish kicked the penalty goal and the scores were level, 18-18.
A field goal attempt from Penrith’s Isaac John was charged down, while Cornish made no mistake when the opportunity to win the match presented itself at the other end of the field.
The shock loss, combined with the NZ Warriors’ victory this week, sees the Panthers’ lead at the top of the NSW Cup table reduced to just two points.
FULL-TIME: 19-18 WYONG.