Young Panthers taste trials success

Report from Jye Campbell, Jason Lawler - Panthers Junior Reporters

Panthers SG Ball and Harold Matthews Cup hopefuls overcame intense heat to clean sweep the Bulldogs in two pairs of trial matches at Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown, on Saturday.

Forty youngsters gunning for final selection in the Panthers SG Ball squad for 2018 claimed three-tries-to-two and three-tries-to-one victories over their Bulldogs opponents.

The club's Harold Matts prospects for 2018 won their respective clashes three-tries-to-one and three-tries-to-two.

In the SG Ball trials, a Hayden Bonanno double and try to Maurice Trindall saw the Panthers narrowly edge the Bulldogs in the first match.

A brace from Rockhampton's Tom Farr and a try to Matt Burton ensured a two-try margin of victory in the second match.

Panthers SG Ball coach Jamie O’Keefe praised his squad's efforts after the game.

“They were ready because they had worked hard. That’s the best kind of ready you can be at this time of year," O'Keefe said.

"The hard work on fitness, strength and fundamental skills put them in a good place even when we struggled with our attacking and defensive structures and processes.

"Every player dealt well with the heat. No one looked for excuses, which was the most pleasing aspect of the trial."

The Panthers Harold Matthews squad with their beaten Bulldogs opponents.
The Panthers Harold Matthews squad with their beaten Bulldogs opponents.

The Panthers Harold Matts squad won their first match courtesy of a double to Reece Davidson and a four-pointer to Hayden El-Bayer.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead in the second game but the Panthers quickly struck back with tries to Sunia Turuva and Braith Alexander.

Niwhai Puru scored late in the second half to hand the Panthers victory and complete a successful pre-season outing for the club.

Harold Matthews coach Kyle Churchill was delighted with his squad's performance.

“I’m really happy...(there was) loads of tough energy and effort, especially in defence," Churchill said.

"We also had a surprising amount of direction in attack, which was pleasing to see.

"The boys have definitely created a few selection headaches for myself and the coaching staff which is always a good thing."

The Panthers will play their next trial games against Parramatta Eels at Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown, on January 20.