ISP Panthers maul Mounties
The ISP Panthers are top of the table after knocking off the high-flying Mounties 34-14 at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
After trailing 8-6, the Panthers scored four unanswered tries to leapfrog Mounties into first on the competition table as Maika Sivo scored a double and Liam Coleman had three try involvements.
The Panthers got off to a blistering start as Liam Coleman put Nick Lui-Toso over from dummy half in the 4th minute. Adam Keighran converted to hand the Panthers an early 6-0 lead.
Mounties came close in the 8th minute when Sam Williams' grubber to the in goal deflected off the goal post and into the path of Charlie Gubb, but the prop was unable to hang onto the football.
Mounties took advantage of their next chance as winger Mikaele Ravalawa touched down after a quick shift of hands. Sitiveni Moceidreke was unsuccessful with the boot and the Panthers remained in the lead after 13 minutes.
Mounties hit the front in the 17th minute when Brad Abbey spun the football wide for Moceidreke to cross. The winger again failed to convert and the score remained 8-6.
Moceidreke seemingly had his second try in the 26th minute when he touched down at the end of a backline movement, but the final pass was ruled forward.
The Panthers capitalised on the reprieve and returned to the lead in the 28th minute as Coleman pounced on Tyrone May's powerful grubber to the in goal. Keighran added the goal to push the Panthers ahead 12-8.
Coleman provided his second assist in the 37th minute with a short ball from dummy half to prop Paea Pua, who bulldozed his way across the stripe. Keighran slotted the conversion to hand the Panthers a 10-point lead at the interval.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 18-8 MOUNTIES
The Panthers extended their lead in the 44th minute when winger Maika Sivo tiptoed down the sideline and bumped off a pair of Mounties defenders to score. Keighran nailed the conversion from the sideline to put the Panthers ahead 24-8.
Sivo sealed a quick-fire double when he broke into space at the end of a backline movement before sidestepping Ata Hingano to dive over under the sticks. Keighran's goal stretched the Panthers lead to 22 points after 49 minutes.
Jarome Luai blitzed Mounties goal line defence and was inches away from scoring in the 58th minute before being cut down in a desperate tackle by Brad Abbey.
Mounties clawed their way back into the contest in the 64th minute when Abbey sidestepped through the Panthers undermanned left-side defence. Moceidreke converted to close the gap to 30-14.
However Mounties hopes of a dramatic comeback were dashed in the 72nd minute when they were reduced to 12 players as Ed Murphy was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
The Panthers put the icing on the win in the 78th minute when centre Sam Smith latched onto a cutout pass by May and beat three Mounties defenders to touch down. Although Keighran's conversion was off the mark, the Panthers came away with a 20-point win to jump Mounties into first on the ISP table.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 34-14 MOUNTIES