The Panthers cemented second spot on the ISP ladder with a tense 18-16 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Belmore Sportsground on Saturday.
Panthers five-eighth Tyrone May took control of the game in the second forty after halves partner Jarome Luai left the field with a suspected MCL tear to his right knee.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in just the third minute of play when Renouf To'omaga ran a great line to get into the backfield. He found Lachlan Lewis in support who crossed for the first try of the game after three minutes of play. Josh Cleeland converted the try to give the Bulldogs an early 6-0 lead.
The Panthers withstood numerous attacking raids on their line before Jarome Luai took advantage of a rare set of six inside the Bulldogs half. He took on the defensive line and offloaded to backrower Billy Burns. Burns beat a number of defenders on his way to the line. Keighran converted from close range to level the scores six minutes from the break.
The Bulldogs hit back 60 seconds before half-time when Jayden Okunbor got through the defensive line and found Jarred Anderson in support. Cleeland's attempted conversion from touch was waved away.
HALF-TIME: Bulldogs 10-6
The Panthers were dealt a big blow when Jarome Luai limped from the field with a suspected MCL injury to his right knee.
Tyrone May took control of the game and sent Liam Martin over the line with a sublime short ball. Adam Keighran converted the four-pointer from out wide to give the Panthers a 12-10 lead with 28 minutes to play.
Tyrone May took advantage of a Bulldogs error when his crisp cut-out pass sent Sam Smith over out wide. Adam Keighran slotted the conversion from the sideline to extend the Panthers lead to eight with 15 minutes remaining.
Josh Cleeland took matters into his own hands to get the Bulldogs back into the game. He dummied and stepped his way to the line with 13 minutes to play. He converted his own try to bring the lead to just two.
The Panthers survived an attacking raid in the final minutes of the game to complete the Jersey Flegg and Intrust Super Premiership double over the Bulldogs at Belmore Sportsground.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 18-16