Young Panthers defeat Mounties
The Panthers Jersey Flegg side overcame a troubling injury toll to run over the top of Mounties 36-16 at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Despite being dominated early on and finishing with just one player on the bench, the Panthers came away with a 16-point victory as Justin Jones and Brian Too bagged doubles.
Mounties opened the scoring in the 7th minute when winger Harley Smith-Shields broke into open space and linked up with halfback Brendan O'Hagan who had a clear path to the line. Fullback Andre Niko converted via the upright to hand Mounties a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers responded in the 14th minute when second rower Shannon Harris charged onto a terrific offload by lock Bradley Gaut to crash over. Five-eighth Dean Blore converted to draw the Panthers level.
Mounties looked to return serve when O'Hagan put second rower Hudson Young over the line with a short ball, but the pass was ruled forward.
The Panthers were given no reprieve on Mounties next appeal however when Niko slid over at the end of a backline movement. The fullback failed to convert and the score remained 10-6 after 21 minutes.
Mounties extended their lead in the 24th minute when Hudson Young pounced on hooker Kyle Paterson's deft grubber to the in goal. Niko landed the conversion to take Mounties out to a 16-6 advantage.
Fullback Daine Laurie took it upon himself to narrow the margin in the 26th minute, fooling Mounties goal line defence with a right-foot step to touch down. Blore's conversion swung wide and the difference remained six points.
The Panthers struck again in the 31st minute when J'maine Hopgood offloaded to centre Thomas Lofts, who flicked out to Justin Jones for the centre to dive over in the corner. Blore failed to convert and Mounties retained their two-point lead.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 14-16 MOUNTIES
The Panthers seemingly hit the front in the 39th minute when Laurie's sent Jones over in the corner, but the fullback's cutout pass was ruled forward.
However the Panthers did snatch the lead when Mounties failed to diffuse a towering bomb by halfback Brendan Hands, and Jones picked up the scraps to dash away for his second. Blore added the extras to push the Panthers into a 20-16 cushion after 43 minutes.
The Panthers punished Mounties for ill discipline on their own goal line as Blore turned the football inside to winger Brian Too, who barnstormed his way to the line. Hands landed the conversion to stretch the Panthers to a 26-16 lead after 57 minutes.
Adam Fearnley put the game to bed in the 62nd minute when he slipped through a gaping hole in Mounties goal line defence from dummy half. Hands converted to bump Mounties behind by 16 points.
Hands drifted wide in the final minute of play to put himself in a two-on-one situation before putting Too over in the corner to wrap up a comprehensive win by the Panthers.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 36-16 MOUNTIES