The Panthers Holden Cup side slipped to a 22-16 defeat against Parramatta Eels at Pepper Stadium in challenging conditions on Saturday.
After a scrappy opening to the game, the Eels were able to settle the quickest and would find the lead just past the 15 minute mark. A quick play the ball in the middle of the park found the defence short on the left hand side as John Fonua went over in the corner. Kamren Cryer slotted his conversion from the sideline to make it 6-0.
The Eels doubled their lead after 32 minutes when Steve Dresler received a short ball close to the line and side-stepped his way through the defence to crash over. Cryer added the extra two to extend their lead to twelve.
Heavy rain and lightning would force the referee to call the players from the field with seven minutes remaining in the half. The teams used the break as half time and resumed soon after for the second half.
HALFTIME - Eels 12-0
Play resumed much like the first half with both teams struggling with possession and discipline before the Eels found a way through after 50 minutes. Denzel Tonise weaved through the defence to score a solo effort before Cryer converted to stretch the lead out to 18-0.
Dean Blore’s pinpoint kick led to a 40/20 and put the Panthers in prime attacking position just shy of the hour mark.
The Panthers would make it count when Wayde Egan produced a superb cut out ball to find Brian Too and put him in the corner untouched. Egan couldn’t add the extra two from out wide as the Eels led 18-4.
Parramatta would hit right back when Haze Dunster found space on the edge to push the lead out to 18 points as Cryer’s conversion sailed wide.
The points continued to flow on the 66 minute mark when Richie Munchow made a break down the left wing. He found Dean Blore back on the inside when one on one with the Eels fullback to put the five-eight in to score. Blore converted his own try to cut the lead down to 12.
The roles reversed just moments later when an inch perfect chip from Blore found an unmarked Munchow on the wing to score. Blore’s conversion was successful to make it 22-16 to set up a grandstand finish with ten minutes to go but it wasn’t to be as the Eels ran out six point victors.
FULLTIME - Eels 22-16