The Jersey Flegg Panthers wrapped up their pre-season with a convincing 18-8 win over Parramatta Eels at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
Fullback Daine Laurie was a standout, employing his blistering speed to score an impressive try in the second half, while prop Spencer Leniu was devastating through the middle of the park.
The Panthers got off to a blistering start when Adam Fearnley set free Terrell May with a short ball, and the second-rower was able to find Stephen Crichton rushing through in support. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, and it remained 4-0 after 4 minutes.
The Eels came close to levelling in the 7th minute, but some superb cover defence, particularly by fullback Daine Laurie, saw the Panthers retain their advantage.
The Panthers had the next opportunity in the 10th minute when Brendan Hands sent a cut out pass to Thomas Lofts with the try line in sight, but the winger had little room to work with and was taken into touch.
A 40/20 by the Eels had the Panthers backpedalling, and the visitors capitalised as William Kei touched down in the corner. The missed conversion attempt left the scores locked after 18 minutes.
The Eels had an opportunity in the 24th minute when Kei toed the ball to the in-goal with teammates looming, but a fumble over the try line let the Panthers off the hook.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 4 – EELS 4
The Panthers quickly got on the board in the second half when Laurie latched onto an inside ball by Hayden Bonanno and put his foot to the floor to swerve around his opposite number and score in the corner. Brendan Hands’ sideline conversion attempt was off the mark, and it remained 8-4 after 40 minutes.
The Panthers doubled their lead in the 45th minute when Ratu Nanovo launched himself at the Eels goal line defence and got an outstanding offload away to Charlie Staines on the wing. The goalkicking trend continued, with 12-4 the score.
The Eels narrowed the deficit as Tuimavave Afualo scored in the corner, but another missed conversion attempt saw the Panthers remain ahead by four points after 50 minutes.
However, the Panthers regained some breathing space in the 55th minute when Laurie sent Spencer Leniu surging upfield, and the prop found Adam Fearnley on his inside. Stephen Crichton knocked over the first goal of the afternoon, handing the Panthers an 18-8 lead.
Leniu got Panthers fans off their feet again from the kick-off, charging 30 metres with several defenders hanging off of him.
The Eels had seemingly set up a grandstand finish with 2 minutes remaining when William Kei pounced on a deft grubber by Clayton Fuallalo, but the winger failed to ground the ball cleanly, confirming a 10-point win to the Panthers.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 18 – EELS 8