The Panthers Jersey Flegg side slipped up for their second draw in as many weeks as a last-ditch Bulldogs try saw the contest finish 28-all at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.
After sharing the points with Canberra Raiders last Sunday, the young Panthers raced out of the blocks for an 18-0 lead against the Bulldogs but couldn't hold on in the second half.
The Panthers opened the scoring as winger Justin Jones put in a grubber that bobbled its way into the in-goal and was fallen upon by centre Jake Tago. Halfback Brendan Hands knocked the conversion over from out wide to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
The advantage was doubled in the 14th minute as winger Glenn McGrady snaffled an intercept and ran 85 metres to score untouched.
The Panthers chalked up another try from their next possession as Tago broke clear down the left edge and found Jones in support to score. Hands was on target with the conversion attempt to give the Panthers an 18-0 lead.
A dropped ball gave the Bulldogs attacking possession and Jake Averillo wasted no time opening their account. The halfback strolled through the defensive line to touch down and converted his try to make the score 18-6 after 23 minutes.
The comeback continued as a long cut-out ball from Bulldogs five-eighth Alex Seve found winger Frank Kuresa unmarked to dive over in the corner. The conversion was successful and the Panthers’ lead was down to six points with five minutes until the break.
The Panthers stopped the rot on the cusp of half-time as McGrady busted down the right flank and chipped ahead for fullback Charlie Staines to snaffle and score.
HALF-TIME – Panthers 24 – 12 Bulldogs
The Bulldogs reduced the gap again in the 45th minute as prop Sua Ailoilo offloaded close to the line for Seve to score. The successful conversion made the score 24-18.
Prop Lindsay Smith looked certain to hit back for the Panthers but dropped the ball reaching for the tryline, and moments later McGrady couldn’t finish off a linebreak down the right touchline.
The Panthers had the try they were looking for in the 55th minute as an offload from Smith and some swift hands to the right edge sent Luke Geary over. The conversion attempt was waved away and the scoreboard read 28-18 to the Panthers.
The Bulldogs continued the punch and counter-punch nature of the contest as Averillo pounced upon a chip kick to score, and the conversion reduced the Panthers lead to four points with seven minutes left to play.
Just as the Panthers looked like they would hold on for the win, the Bulldogs snatched an unlikely draw. With the final play of the game, a lofted pass to Kuresa saw the winger fool the defence and plant the ball in the corner. Averillo had the chance to win the game but his conversion attempt sailed just wide.
FULL-TIME – Panthers 28 – 28 Bulldogs