The ISP Panthers have consolidated their position atop the competition ladder with a 24-14 victory over the Dragons at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
The Dragons took the lead midway through the second half but the sin-binning of backrower Joe Lovodua gave the Panthers a shot at victory, and they capitalised with two tries to win the game.
The Panthers got their game off to a perfect start when a strong run from prop Kaide Ellis put him through a gap to score after only three minutes. Five-eighth Adam Keighran knocked the conversion over for a 6-0 lead.
Dragons fullback Patrick Herbert hit back for the visitors in the 9th minute as he brushed off a couple of would-be tacklers to dive over. The attempted conversion sailed wide, leaving Panthers ahead 6-4.
The Dragons defence ignored the run of Andy Saunders in the 25th minute and paid the price. The prop couldn't believe his luck as he crashed over untouched. The simple conversion from Keighran gave the Panthers a 12-4 lead.
After earning a repeat set on the Panthers line, some slick hands on the left edge of the Dragons put winger Jordan Pereira over in the corner with two minutes left before the break.
HALF-TIME – Panthers 12 – 8 Dragons
The Dragons enjoyed a sustained period of attack on the Panthers line to open the second half and eventually made it count in the 55th minute. Lovodua shrugged off the attempted tackle of Keighran to burst through the line and score. Herbert was on target with the conversion to give the Dragons a 14-12 lead.
With 14 minutes left to play a quick tap from Panthers backrower Liam Martin caught Lovodua within the ten metres and the Dragon was promptly sent to the sin bin. From the next play, Panthers winger Maika Sivo surged back through the middle, bumped off some defenders and touched down. Keighran helped himself to the simple conversion and the Panthers were back in front, 18-14.
Keighran helped himself to a try with six minutes left in the contest as a simple step put him in enough space to dive over. The playmaker then added the extras for a 24-14 lead, which was the final score as the Panthers defended out the final minutes.
FULL-TIME - Panthers 24 - 14 Dragons