A brave Panthers outfit have fallen to a 18-16 defeat in Holden Cup at the hands of the St George Illawarra Dragons in torrential conditions at UOW Jubilee Oval.
Wayde Egan went close to getting the Panthers off to a perfect start inside seven minutes. The crafty hooker darted out of dummy half and tried to use to slippery conditions to his advantage as he slid under the defence but was adjudged to have lost possession just shy of the line.
Instead, the Dragons would post the first points on the 15 minute mark. Jackson Willis burrowed his way under three defenders to give his side a six point lead following a successful conversion from Zac Lomax.
The lead doubled after 22 minutes when Cooper Purcell played in Matt Sheppard with a short ball close to the line to score under the posts. Lomax had no trouble adding the extras to make it 12-0.
Six minutes later and the Dragons were in again thanks to Tristan Sailor. The winger anticipated a cut out pass and intercepted before streaking away 60 metres to score. Lomax maintained his perfect record with the boot to push the lead out to 18-0 where it would remain until the half time break.
HALFTIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 18 – 0 Penrith Panthers.
The Panthers needed to strike first in the second half and duly obliged through Caleb Aekins. A penalty would carry the Panthers up field and they would take their chance when the ball found Aekins on the left wing. The fullback wrestled past his man to crash over and cut the deficit to 12 after Dean Blore slotted the conversion.
The margin was further reduced to eight after 57 minutes courtesy of a precise Egan kick. The hooker found some space on the right edge before playing Brian Too in after his grubber caught the opposition winger off his line. Blore’s conversion was waved away to remain 18-10.
Dean Blore was at the heart of another Panthers try when Izzard went in to score after 75 minutes. The halfback found Izzard with a perfect ball close to the line to go through untouched. Blore’s conversion was successful to bring the Panthers to within two points and set up a grandstand finish.
A Dragons error in their own half gave the Panthers one last chance to snatch victory but it wasn’t to be as the Panthers ultimately fell short 18-16.
FULLTIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 18 – 16 Penrith Panthers.