A Daine Laurie field goal secured a thrilling 25-24 Golden Point victory for the Panthers over Sydney Roosters in an extraordinary Qualifying Final at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
With the sides locked up at 20-all at the end of 70 minutes, both teams crossed for unconverted tries in the mandatory ten minutes of extra time, sending the game into Golden Point.
Panthers playmaker Daine Laurie then stepped up for the match-winner, slotting a Golden Point field goal to seal the result and put the Panthers within one win of the 2019 Jersey Flegg Grand Final.
It was a remarkable upset victory for the Panthers, taking the field without five of their regular starters, who had received call-ups to the club's Canterbury Cup side.
Roosters centre Ethan Quai-Ward was the first to cross the line as he took advantage of some early ball to power his way through the defensive line. The conversion attempt from out wide was waved away.
The Panthers were quick to hit back through second-rower Alex Myles. He steamed on to a short ball and reached out plant it down. The conversion from Glenn McGrady sailed over to give the Panthers a two-point lead.
The Roosters regained the lead in the 21st minute when halfback Jake Hazard broke the line and found fullback McKenzie Baker with a precise kick. Baker dived over under the posts to give Bayleigh Bentley-Hape an easy conversion, which took the Roosters to a 10-6 lead.
The back-and-forth affair continued just short of the break when Laurie put a pin-point grubber in for fullback McGrady. His ensuing conversion gave Penrith a slender lead heading into the sheds.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 12 – Roosters 10
The lead changed again when Baker crossed for his second try of the afternoon just three minutes into the second half. Bentley-Hape added the extras to give the Roosters a four-point lead.
Laurie levelled the scores with an instinctive solo effort in the 45th minute of play. Some ad-lib footy got the Panthers down field before the enigmatic five-eighth spun out of an attempted tackle and backed his way over the try line.
With ten minutes left in regular time, quick hands from debutant Ezraa Coulston put speedster Justin Jones into some clear space and the winger dived over in the left-hand corner. With McGrady's attempted conversion waved away, the Panthers enjoyed a 20-16 lead.
Reihana Marsh hit back for the Roosters with five minutes to play. The back-rower reeled in a grubber and planted the ball down despite the attention of multiple defenders.
With 90 seconds remaining, Panthers prop Lindsay Smith was penalised for a late tackle, gifting Bentley-Hape a penalty goal attempt to win the game. However the Roosters winger hit the post and the ball deflected clear to send the game into Extra Time.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 20 – Roosters 20
The Panthers struck first as forward Terrell May dived over out wide on the end of a slick interchange of passes from Laurie and Coulston. McGrady’s attempted conversion from touch was waved away.
The Roosters just wouldn’t go away though, as Christian Tuipulotu hit back soon after, barging his way over in the corner. The wretched day for goal-kickers continued as another conversion attempt was waved away.
With the teams unable to be separated after Extra Time, the game entered Golden Point.
The Panthers quickly forced an error from the kick-off and Laurie was cool under pressure to slot the match-winning field goal.
FULL-TIME GOLDEN POINT: Panthers 25 - Roosters 24