The ISP Panthers failed to take their chances but still snatched a 10-8 trial game victory against Wentworthville Magpies at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
It was a scrappy affair marred by errors, but first-half tries to Matheson Johns and Brian Too earned the Panthers a gritty victory.
Although a short kick-off gave the Panthers the first attacking opportunity of the afternoon, it was the Magpies who opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A terrific face ball by Rhys Davies sent Ethan Parry over the stripe, giving the Magpies a 4-0 lead.
Davies nearly laid on a second try in the 19th minute when he sent a deft grubber to the in-goal, but Brent Naden rushed across to defuse the situation.
The Panthers opened their account in the 25th minute when Matheson Johns powered over the line from close range. Jed Cartwright squeezed in the conversion to hand the Panthers a 6-4 lead.
A crusher tackle resulted in centre Sam Smith being put on report in the 29th minute.
Brian Too supplied one of his trademark finishes at the end of a superb backline movement to extend the Panthers advantage in the 35th minute. Cartwright’s attempt from the sideline fell short, and it remained 10-4.
Magpies five-eighth Jaeman Salmon popped up the ball for Salesi Fainga’a to charge onto and score off, but the conversion attempt was off the mark and the Panthers took a two-point lead into the sheds.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 10 – MAGPIES 8
The Panthers spent the opening stages of the second stanza camped deep inside the Magpies half but didn’t produce anything to show for it as the Magpies goal line defence held firm.
The Panthers were reduced to 12 men in the 57th minute after Ratu Tuisese came from an offside position to shut down a threatening Magpies attack.
When Alan Fitzgibbon busted into the backfield with players supporting in the 69th minute, the Panthers looked set to put the game to bed. However, the winger’s pass drifted forward and the Magpies remained in the contest.
The Magpies seemingly stole the win 3 minutes from time when Josh Minhimmick sliced through a gap with the try line in sight, only for the centre to drop the football over the stripe. It proved to be costly for the Magpies, as the Panthers closed out a two-point win.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 10 – MAGPIES 8