The NYC Panthers have powered into the finals with an impressive 29-10 victory against Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday.
Winger Daine Laurie bagged a hat-trick which was highlighted by a spectacular 'try of the year' contender.
Guaranteed a top-four finish before kick-off, the young Panthers overcame the absence of regular hooker Wayde Egan to deny the home side a positive end to the regular season.
The Panthers were on the back foot from the kick-off after conceding back-to-back penalties. They were made to pay as Manly centre Tevita Funa crashed over from close range. The conversion was waved away but Sea Eagles led 4-0.
Daine Laurie hit back for the Panthers in spectacular fashion in the 9th minute. Unleashed down the right wing, he put a chip kick over his defender, re-gathered and beat the fullback to the corner. Blore couldn’t convert and the score remained 4-4.
Manly hit the lead again in the 20th minute as halfback Cade Cust brushed off the tackles and somehow touched down despite being surrounded by defenders. The successful conversion made the score 10-4.
The Panthers returned fire with six minutes left before the break as Laurie flew high to claim a Blore bomb and score. The conversion attempt sailed wide so Manly remained ahead 10-8.
However the Panthers weren’t finished with the points and fullback Caleb Aekins strolled over on the stroke of halftime.
HALFTIME – Panthers 12-10
The second half started on a sour note for the Panthers with winger Daniel Brown assisted from the field with a leg injury.
However the visitors didn’t let it dampen their enthusiasm and as they rolled down field in the 55th minute, J’maine Hopgood ducked his head and powered over in the tackle. Blore nailed his first conversion of the day to put Panthers ahead 18-10.
Laurie grabbed his hat-trick eight minutes later as he stepped back and beat half a dozen defenders to dive over. Blore couldn’t convert but Panthers lead 22-10. Manly hooker Manase Fainu was then sinbinned after going on with some foul play after the try was scored.
The Panthers made the most of the man advantage from the next set as they sliced through and Aekins streaked away to score his second. Blore knocked the conversion over to make it 28-10.
As time ran out, Blore iced the victory with a field goal in the final minute.
FULLTIME - Panthers 29-10