Panthers hold on against Blacktown
The ISP Panthers overcame injuries to defeat Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 26-16 at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Tyrone May was a standout for the Panthers with four try involvements, while winger Ratu Tuisese scored a double.
Nick Lui-Toso and Paea Pua failed to finish the match due to injury, while Liam Coleman battled through after taking a knock to his hand.
The Sea Eagles looked set to open the scoring in the 8th minute when Tom Wright got an offload away to Jade Anderson over the try line, but the fullback fumbled the football under the pressure of the scrambling Panthers defence.
The Panthers marched upfield and Corey Waddell marked his long-awaited return from injury with a try. The second rower latched onto a Tyrone May face ball and stepped his way to the try line, and Adam Keighran converted to put the Panthers ahead 6-0 after 11 minutes.
A golden opportunity was put to waste in the 18th minute when Keighran broke into the backfield and turned to an unmarked Ratu Tuisese, but his pass was off the mark and the Sea Eagles were let off the hook.
The Panthers extended their lead in the 25th minute when May drifted wide and basketball passed to Sam Smith, who drew in Anderson and sent Maika Sivo over the line. Keighran's conversion hooked wide and the score remained 10-0.
Sivo looked to have had a double in the 32nd minute when he cut infield and reached out for the try line, but the football cruelly slipped from his grasp.
The Panthers were again denied in the 35th minute when Billy Burns strolled through a gaping hole in the Sea Eagles goal line defence, but Mitch Kenny's pass was ruled forward.
The Sea Eagles punished the Panthers for their wasted chances on the stroke of halftime as Joey Lussick sent Toafofoa Sipley crashing over. Lussick converted to narrow the margin to four at the break.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 10-6 BLACKTOWN WORKERS
The Sea Eagles were reduced to 12 men just moments into the second half when Vai Toutai was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
A runaway May was denied in the 45th minute by a Maliko Filino ankle tap, but the Panthers quickly shifted wide and Ratu Tuisese touched down in the corner. Keighran landed the conversion from out wide to extend the Panthers lead to 16-6.
Jarome Luai sent a cut out pass to an unmarked Billy Burns on the right wing close to the line in the 59th minute, but the Sea Eagles rushed across to wrap up the second rower.
Tuisese clinched his second try in the 64th minute when he latched onto a long ball by May, veered infield and charged through a gap in the Sea Eagles goal line defence. Keighran added the two points to put the Panthers ahead by 16 points.
The Sea Eagles responded when Veiru Mapesone sent a bullet pass to Honeti Tuha, who dived over in the corner. Lussick's conversion drifted wide and the score remained 22-10 after 68 minutes.
May missed an opportunity to put the game to bed in the 72nd minute when he took on the line but coughed up the football over the stripe.
The Sea Eagles punished the Panthers, rolling upfield where Toafofoa Sipley barged over for his second try. Mapesone kicked the goal to narrow the margin to six points with 5 minutes remaining.
The Sea Eagles hopes of a dramatic comeback were put to bed in the 78th minute as Keighran sliced through at the end of a Panthers backline shift. The centre's conversion drifted wide, and the Panthers came away with a 10-point win.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 26-16 BLACKTOWN WORKERS