The Tarsha Gale Cup Panthers are the competition's inaugural Premiers after triumphing 26-18 over the Bulldogs in the Grand Final at Leichardt Oval on Saturday.
Two tries and a crafty kicking game from Ashlee Harrison helped seal the victory for the Panthers who controlled the contest for large periods.
The Panthers started brightly and nearly had the first points of the game when Cheryl Varga kicked in to space behind the Bulldogs defence and ran down her own kick but for some last ditch Bulldogs defence denying her.
The Panthers didn’t have to wait much longer when Varga raced through a gap in the 5th minute to give her side the lead, before converting her own try to make it 6-0.
The Bulldogs hit back in the 7th minute when Alafou Fatu scooted over from dummy half. The conversion fell short and the score remained 6-4.
The Bulldogs had the lead in the 15th minute after a period of dominance with the ball. Haneen Zreika sliced through the line to give her side the lead, before converting her own try to make it 10-6.
The Panthers reclaimed the lead on the stroke of half-time when Nikita Katoa carried a handful of defenders over the line to score. Varga’s conversion handed the Panthers a 12-10 lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 12 – 10 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
The Bulldogs made an error from the restart to gift the Panthers the ball on the Bulldogs line and they made it count through Jaime-Lee Davis who scored a solo effort. The conversion sailed wide to remain 16-10.
The Panthers were in again in the 23rd minute thanks to a jinking run and dive from Harrison. Her conversion would hit the upright and fall out to keep the score at 20-10.
The Bulldogs hit back in the 27th minute through Taalefili Saufoi. The conversion was unsuccessful as the Panthers held on to a 20-14 lead.
Harrison had her second try in the 35th minute when she chased her own kick to score, before converting the try to make it 26-14.
A late consolation try to the Bulldogs wasn’t enough as the Panthers sealed a historic 26-18 win to clinch the first ever Tarsha Gale Cup trophy.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 26 – 18 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs