Panthers prevail in try-fest over Wyong
A double to Caleb Aekins and a 79th minute match-winner to Siosifa Talakai highlighted an 11-try thriller at Panthers Stadium.
It was Wyong who struck first with a line break in the first set by Lindsay Collins putting the Panthers on the back foot from the outset.
Nat Butcher opened the scoring when he attached the right edge and crashed over after just five minutes. The conversion from successful to give the Roos an early 6-0 lead.
Wyong were controlling the momentum early and it was Mitch Cornish who took advantage 15 minutes into the game. The Roos kept the ball alive and it quickly went to the left where Cornish took on a staggered defensive line to get the second try of the game. Cornish converted his own try to extend the lead to 12.
Wayde Egan and Andy Saunders gave the Roos another opportunity after failing to clean up a loose ball. A slick pass from Cornish put Paul Momirovski on the outside of Sam Smith and he had too much strength to score Wyong's third try in the opening 20 minutes. Despite a strong breeze Cornish slotted the conversion with ease from out wide.
Panthers desperately needed to be next to score and Caleb Aekins answered the call. Maika Sivo beat Reece Robinson to an Adam Keighran bomb and got a great offload away to Aekins, who dived over 13 minutes short of half-time. Keighran converted to bring the deficit down to 12.
With Wyong down to 12 men after an infringement close to their in-goal Aekins supplied a sublime short ball to centre Sam Smith, who crossed out wide. Keighran added the extras, bringing Wyong's lead down to six at half-time.
HALF-TIME: Wyong 18 – Panthers 12
Wyong started the second forty in the same fashion as the first. Fullback Luke Sharp came into the line and sliced through the Panthers right edge defence. He evaded the desperate tackle of Aekins to bounce over the line. Cornish was in great form with the boot, converting from touch to extend the lead to 24-18.
Minutes later Maika Sivo picked up a loose ball and streaked 60 metres to keep the Panthers in the contest. Keighran made it 3 from 3 from a tricky angle.
The Panthers went back-to-back minutes later when Keighran dabbed the ball in behind the Roos defence. Fullback Aekins pounced on the grubber to claim his second try of the match. Keighran's conversion levelled the scores at 24 apiece.
An error from the restart gave the Roos the perfect chance to hit straight back. A silky set play from from Matt Cornish put centre Matthew Ikuvalu over for the fourth try of the second half. Cornish missed an easy conversion, giving the Roos a slender 28-24 lead.
Young gun Shawn Blore capped off a great ISP debut with a four-pointer with 21 minutes remaining in the game. A late offload from Reed Izzard and crisp ball from Coleman put the debutant over on the right edge. Keighran's conversion put the Panthers in the lead 30-28.
Wyong kicked back-to-back penalty goals in the 67th and 70th minutes of play to give the Roos a 32-30 lead with just 10 minutes to play.
The back-and-forth match went down to the wire and the result was decided when powerful back-rower Siosifa Talakai cut back on the inside, bounced off the defence and spun his way over to score the eleventh try of the Intrust Super Premiership thriller. Keighran stepped up and added his sixth conversion to give the Panthers a 36-32 victory over Wyong.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 36 - Titans 32