Mixed Media: Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Reagan Campbell-Gillard has praised the resilience of his teammates after they saw off a Raiders onslaught in the second half to seal a seventh-straight win at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
A ten-point lead at halftime evaporated following the restart as the home side fought to keep their season alive but the Panthers stood tall and eventually struck the killer blow five minutes from time.
"The second-half was a little bit scrappy there and let them in to the game," Campbell-Gillard said.
"(I had) full confidence with our boys, we hung in there and got the two points."
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After being firmly on the back foot for much of the second-half, the game threatened to get away from the Panthers. But some resilient goal-line defence kept them in the contest.
"At one point there we thought 'what's going on here?' and it (the score) was going to blow out a little bit and they were going to run away there," Campbell-Gillard said.
"But that's what we train for. What we live by is our defence and we stuck in there and held them out for a pretty reasonable time and (had) no ball either so (we were) doing a lot of defence.
"It's very positive to see the outcome we got."
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A slow start to the season saw the Panthers reeling in 15th position after just two wins from the opening nine rounds and in danger of missing out on finals football.
However a 22-point comeback against the Warriors in Round 10 was the start of a mid-season revival that has turned into eleven wins from thirteen matches to leave them sitting in sixth and feeling in much higher spirits.
"Definitely (feeling more confident). We're building our confidence each week as it comes and we've just go to keep improving as a team," Campbell-Gillard said.
"Everyone's walking around feeling really confident. At the start of the year we were feeling very down not winning.
"At the moment we're really confident in what we're doing and how our structure and game plans are working.
"We're still a young team. We've just got to focus on ourselves and build in to this week against the Dragons."
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With their finals chances firmly in the balance, September-style football arrived early for the Panthers. Having beaten the 8th placed Cowboys and 10th placed Raiders, the face fellow top eight hopefuls the Dragons and Sea Eagles to close out the regular season, giving them a taste of the sudden-death nature of finals football that lies ahead.
"You don’t want to look too far ahead but you can see it and smell finals footy. You’ve just got to focus on each week as it comes," Campbell-Gillard said.
"The Dragons are desperate to try and get in to the eight. I'm assuming they're going to come in with a real attitude and we’ve got to turn up and address them."