The Penrith Panthers NSW Cup side left it late to grab a vital 20-18 victory against Newtown Jets at Henson Park.
After trailing for much of the game, Penrith showed great character to snatch the win with a late try to stay in the fight at the top of the competition table.
The opening few minutes saw the Panthers camped inside the Jets' 20m zone, going close to scoring on a couple of occasions. Handling errors by the Panthers released the pressure off Newtown’s line and the home side was awarded a penalty shortly after, gaining valuable field position.
Newtown scored first points in the fifth minute with a try by Blake Ayshford. The five-eighth weaved through a gap close to the Panthers line and planted the ball down with Panthers defenders hanging off him. Todd Murphy kicked the conversion and Newtown led 6-0.
The Panthers hit back with a try of their own in the 25th minute. A couple of repeat sets deep in Newtown territory mounted the pressure on the home side. A precision short pass to Sam Anderson close to the line proved to be the difference with the prop charging his way over. Corey Harawira-Naera converted the try and the score was tied 6-6.
Newtown went into the break in front scoring a try in the 38th minute. Blake Ayshford collected the ball and spread it left toward Nathan Gardner who dived over in the corner. Murphy’s conversion was successful and Newtown were ahead 12-6.
HALF-TIME: 12-6 NEWTOWN.
Penrith put themselves back in the game when they scored a try in the 51st minute. The Panthers ran hard with a set from their own 20 metre line and Maliko Filino ran in to touch down in the left corner. Hararwira-Naera missed the kick and Newtown led 12-10.
The Panthers were in front in the 58th minute when Maliko Filino went in for his second try of the afternoon. Filino ran onto a short pass at pace catching the Jets' outside backs off-guard. Harawira-Naera converted the try and the Panthers led 16-12.
Ben Murdoch-Masila limped off the field and was assisted by the trainer in the 63rd minute clutching at his hamstring. He went straight to the dressing room and didn’t return to the field.
Newtown hit the lead in the 68th minute with a try by halfback Todd Murphy. The Jets put in a chip kick from the Panthers' 20m line, the ball bounced over the head of the last Penrith defender and Murphy got a lucky bounce on the try line to ground the ball. Murphy converted his own try and the Jets had a 18-16 lead.
Maliko Filino was the hero with his third try in the 79th minute. The Panthers shifted the ball to the right after being held up a few tackles earlier and Filino caught a short pass 10 metres out from the Jets' line, ran hard and slammed the ball down. Harawira-Naera missed the kick and the Panthers finished the game ahead 20-18.
FULL-TIME: 20-18 PANTHERS.