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Dragons charge home to punish Panthers

The Jersey Flegg Panthers suffered their first defeat of the season as the Dragons pulled off a remarkable second half comeback to score a 23-22 win at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.

The home side enjoyed a 16-0 lead at half-time but the Dragons took advantage of some poor errors and tiring defence after the break, capped off with a 40-metre field goal to seal the result.

The Panthers opened the scoring after five minutes as an in-goal grubber from five-eighth Niwhai Puru was spilled by the Dragons. Halfback Hayden Bonanno was on the spot to ground the ball and Puru kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

After a sustained period of attack on the Dragons line, the Panthers extended their advantage in the 26th minute. Interchange forward Ilai Tuia crashed over from close range and Puru added the extras for a 12-0 scoreline.

The home side were in again only a few seconds before the half-time break. A slick spread to the left edge found the extra man and winger Logan Cohen dived over in the corner untouched.

HALF-TIME – Panthers 16 – Dragons 0

The Dragons put themselves back in the contest six minutes after the break. Halfback Sam Hooper spotted some tired markers and burrowed over from dummy half.

Five minutes later the visitors cut the Panthers lead further as winger Benjamin Johnson found himself unmarked out wide and dived over. The attempted conversion was waved away, leaving the score at 16-10.

The Panthers responded as Cohen grabbed his second try in the 48th minute. Once again it was some slick work from five-eighth Puru to quickly get the ball to the left edge and create the space. He backed it up with an accurate sideline conversion to put the home side ahead 22-10.

However the Dragons refused to concede the game and when lock Ben Arandt crashed over for a try that was duly converted, the Panthers’ lead was reduced to six points.

Back-to-back penalties and a six again call granted the Dragons more attacking possession with six minutes to play. Dantoray Lui cut back against some tired defence and touched down, with the conversion levelling the scores a 22-all.

The Dragons took the lead with three minutes to play as fullback Treigh Stewart nailed a field goal from 40 metres out.

The Panthers regained possession from the short kick-off but after a haphazard setup, Bonanno sprayed his own field goal attempt wide and the Panthers were left with their first taste of defeat in 2021.

FULL-TIME - Panthers 22 - Dragons 23