The NYC Panthers and Cronulla Sharks have played out an entertaining 30-all draw in a see-sawing battle at Pepper Stadium.
Handling errors from the Panthers inside their own half invited the visitors to attack early on and they took the invitation seven minutes in to the game. Sharks winger Sione Katoa found himself on the end of a set play and touched down in the corner, before Kyle Flanagan’s successful conversion made it 6-0.
The Panthers hit back instantly thanks to a crafty run from hooker Wayde Egan. His scoot out of dummy half caught the Sharks defence napping, before finding Liam Martin on the inside to score under the posts. Dean Blore had no problems adding the extras to level the scores after twelve minutes.
They were in again moments later when Sam Martin-Savage crossed over but for an error in the lead up letting the Sharks off the hook.
The home side weren’t to be denied midway through the half when Daniel Brown seized upon a loose ball in his own in-goal area and sprinted away to score under the black dot. Blore again added the extras to push the score out to 12-6.
Egan had his second assist on the half hour mark as he caught the Sharks defence napping on the line to put Tom Skinner through next to the posts. Blore knocked over the conversion to give the home side a 12 point lead.
Egan went from creator to saviour with a last ditch effort halting a Sharks breakaway, however Blore received his marching orders for a professional foul trying to hold the man down as the defence scrambled to recover.
The extra man was made to count as the Sharks crossed over in the corner through Isaac Lumelume, before Flanagan’s conversion brought the away side back to within a converted try.
The scores were level on the stroke of half time as Ryan King barged over to score underneath the black dot. Flanagan converted the easy two as the sides went in to the break locked at 18-all.
HALF TIME: Penrith Panthers 18 – 18 Cronulla Sharks
Still with the one man advantage for the start of the second period, the Sharks turned the game around when Jack Williams dived over to give the visitors the lead. Flanagan’s successful conversion made it 24-18.
King had his second barely five minutes after the restart when he carried a handful of defenders over the line. Another easy conversion from Flanagan pushed the score out to 30-18 as Blore returned to the field from the sin bin.
The Panthers started to work their way back in to the contest and had their reward just after the hour when Richie Munchow found a miraculous offload for Brian Too to reach over and score in the corner. Blore nailed the conversion from the sideline to bring his side back to within six points.
Too nearly had his second five minutes later but was denied by the touch judge who ruled he was taken out of bounds in the act of scoring.
Munchow was also denied by the whistle blowers as Too was adjudged to have knocked on in an aerial contest.
Egan had no such issues when he spotted a gap in the line to scoot out of dummy half and score, before Blore’s conversion levelled things up with three minutes remaining on the clock.
A penalty at the death for a high tackle afforded the home side an opportunity to work a final attacking play with seconds remaining on the clock. However, with the defence all over the ball the referee ruled a knock on to kill the opportunity as the sides played out tightly-contested 30-all draw.
FULL TIME: Penrith Panthers 30 – 30 Cronulla Sharks