The Panthers’ NRL Nines campaign ended as they were controversially defeated 17-14 by St George-Illawarra Dragons in the Quarter Finals on Saturday.
The Panthers had seemingly done enough to reach the Semi Finals after coming from behind twice to snatch the lead in the closing stages. However, after the full-time siren, the Dragons were awarded a try despite Cody Ramsey planting the ball over the sideline.
With no Bunker on hand at the Nines, the decision stood, and the Panthers bowed out in devastating fashion.
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Nathan Cleary seemingly scored the opening try when he pounced on his own grubber after a scuffle in the in-goal, but Matt Burton was penalised for allegedly taking out a defender.
The Dragons immediately capitalised on the reprieve, as Cody Ramsey streaked away for a bonus zone try.
The Panthers looked set to equalise on the stroke of halftime but were denied once again by referee Ben Cummins.
Viliame Kikau got an arm free to send Josh Mansour on his way to the bonus zone, but were pulled back for a forward pass, saving the Dragons’ lead.
HALF-TIME: DRAGONS 7 – PANTHERS 0
The Panthers continued to apply pressure early in the second half, and the points would follow.
After a Nathan Cleary short ball was batted down by the Dragons’ defence, Api Koroisau picked up the scraps and scurried over. Cleary knocked over the conversion, trimming the margin down to 7-6.
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But with four minutes remaining, the Dragons pulled back ahead when Cody Ramsey touched down for his second, despite suspicions of a forward pass. A conversion from the sideline put the Dragons seven points clear.
As he did earlier in the match, Api Koroisau breathed life into the Panthers as he scooted over from dummy half.
Then, with just over a minute to play, Viliame Kikau put the Panthers ahead for the first time of the match as he barged over from close range.
The Panthers looked set for a Semi Final berth, before a controversial decision by the officials after the full-time siren broke Penrith hearts.
Cody Ramsey completed his hat-trick to win it for the Dragons as he touched down in the corner, although replays clearly showed he planted the ball over the sideline.
But with no Bunker to review the decision, a try was awarded and the Panthers’ tournament came to a gut-wrenching end.
FULL-TIME: DRAGONS 17 – PANTHERS 14