Penrith have overcome a patchy first-half performance to steal a 23-22 win over Brisbane on Saturday night, thanks to debutant Te Maire Martin’s match-winning field goal.
Martin was the star in the impressive win, with the Panthers fighting back after trailing for most of the game. In what was a show-stopper for the fans, Panthers’ Coach, Anthony Griffin, will be relieved to have secured a crucial two points after his sides’ sloppy start to the game.
The Panthers didn’t start the game well with Reagan Campbell-Gillard losing the ball in the first tackle to hand Brisbane a perfect opportunity to open the scoring.
It took the Broncos less than 90 seconds to take advantage of the costly error with Anthony Milford seemingly strolling across the line for a try. Corey Parker hit the upright as he attempted to convert, leaving the score at 4-0.
Anthony Milford put Darius Boyd through a gap for the Broncos second try in the 13th minute, causing early concerns around Pepper Stadium for the home fans. Parker made sure of the kick to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead.
The Panthers worked themselves back into the game with a try held up over the line in the 18th minute, shortly before Jamie Soward’s grubber was pounced upon by a flying Peta Hiku, who slid onto the ball to plant a try. Soward calmly slotted the conversion to bring the deficit back to just four points.
Both sides produced some expansive play in the first half hour and while it might have been patchy, it was clear they were throwing everything into it during an exciting opening period.
Broncos’ halfback, Ben Hunt, found some space in the 30th minute, wrapping around his team mate to follow up a pass, strolling through to put it down under the posts. It was another conversion from Parker as he kicked with ease.
Filling in for the injured Dean Whare, Panthers’ fullback, Will Smith, was unable to grab hold of a Broncos’ bomb in the following set and it allowed the Broncos to fester in the Panthers end of the field.
After receiving a penalty, the Broncos spread the ball to their playmaker Anthony Milford, who straightened up off his left foot to bump through the defence for a try. Jordan Kahu took over the kicking with Parker off the field, making it 22-6 to the Broncos after 37 minutes.
With the game beginning to look like it could get away from them, the Panthers hit-back with Leilani Latu passing to Bryce Cartwright close to the line to grab a crucial try just before halftime. Soward converted to bring the score back to 22-12 as the players returned to the sheds.
Halftime: Panthers 12 Broncos 22
The patchy play continued in the second half with a mixed bag from both sides sending the game from end-to-end.
Jack Reed almost bagged a try for the Broncos in the 53rd minute, only to lose the ball as he reached out for the tryline. The turnover allowed the Panthers to push their way up field and they soon grabbed the opening four-pointer.
Soward’s grubber-kick took a rebound off a Broncos’ leg and Jeremy Latimore toed the ball into the in-goal, scooting through to land his first try of the year. A quick conversion had the scores back to 22-18 after 56 minutes.
The Panthers were dazzling the fans with some looming play midway through the second-half, looking like they would strike on a number occasions. Despite some solid defence, it was the high error rates that prevented either side from taking hold of the match.
Te Maire Martin his debut one to remember, scoring a try on the right edge after somehow ending up in the wing position to step past the Broncos’ last line of defence. With game tied, Soward lined-up from the sideline to take the lead but it went wide and the scores remained at 22-22 with 9 minutes to play.
A high-tackle on Tyrone Peachey in the following set gave the Panthers the chance to take the lead with a penalty-kick from 31 metres out. However, Soward couldn’t find his range, with the ball shifting to the left and well over the deal-ball line.
The debut for Te Maire Martin only got better when he kicked the match-winning field goal in the 76th minute. With the game already raising heart-rates, the Broncos kicked the ball dead from the kick-off and it had Pepper Stadium pulsing.
The Broncos had one last chance with 30 seconds to go, but an offside kick left Te Maire Martin to be the hero as the Panthers won a roller-coaster 23-22.
FULL TIME: 23-22