The Panthers assured themselves a spot in the NRL finals with a nailbiting 15-14 victory over Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.
It took a Matt Moylan field goal to seal the result after the Panthers had let a 14-0 halftime lead slip away in a frenetic second stanza.
Jarryd Hayne may have been the focus of all the pre-match media but it was instead Panthers custodian Matt Moylan who opened proceedings in style. Receiving the ball on the fifth tackle, Moylan jinked and cut back through the defence to score beside the posts in the 8th minute. Nathan Cleary made no mistake with the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
A scything break from Bryce Cartwright put the Titans on the back foot in the 17th minute. As the ball was immediately sent to the right flank, Waqa Blake showed impressive strength to power his way over in the tackle. Cleary’s conversion sailed over and the Panthers were out to a 12-0 lead.
In the 27th minute Moylan was taken out off the ball and from the ensuing penalty the Panthers elected to kick for goal. Despite the urgings of the home crowd, Cleary sent it sailing between the posts to put the Panthers ahead 14-0.
Moylan made a one-on-one trysaver on Hayne as the Panthers defended multiple sets on their own line. Despite some nervous moments, the visitors held out.
HALFTIME – Panthers 14-0
The Titans benefited from a fortunate 'six again' call and put themselves back in the contest with a Leivaha Pulu try only four minutes into the second half. Tyrone Roberts kicked the simple conversion to make it 14-6.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard departed the game with 20 minutes left on the clock. It looked like a worrying back injury for the Panthers prop.
It was a miraculous piece of work from Greg Bird to score with 13 minutes remaining. Seemingly wrapped up in the tackle, Bird somehow reached out with the ball in one hand and claimed the try. Roberts was again on target with the conversion and the Panthers lead was down to two points.
In the 75th minute Chris Grevsmuhl was penalised for a high shot right in front and the Titans had no concerns pointing to the posts. Roberts made no mistake and the game was locked up at 14-14.
An incisive break from Tyrone Peachey suddenly put the Panthers in field goal range and with no hesitation, Moylan stepped up to slot it from 20m out.
FULLTIME - Panthers 15-14