A lightning fast start helped inspire the Jersey Flegg Panthers to a 40-20 victory over Victoria Thunderbolts at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
The Panthers scored in the first minute of the game on their way to three unanswered tries in the opening 15 minutes. Despite the Thunderbolts threatening to make a comeback, the home side held their nerve in the second half to secure the win.
The Panthers got off to a blistering start as fullback Sadee Sub Laban broke clear and found five-eighth Niwhai Puru in support to score the opening try after only 45 seconds of play. Puru knocked the conversion over for a 6-0 lead.
Puru had his double within eight minutes of kick-off as again he found himself backing up a Panthers linebreak. This time it was hooker Connor Mason who broke clear before putting the five-eighth over untouched. Another simple conversion and the Panthers led 12-0.
In the 15th minute Sub Laban sprinted down the short side, dummied his way past the defensive line and stepped the fullback to score out wide. Puru was on target with the conversion attempt and the lead was out to 18-0.
Eight minutes later agile Thunderbolts forward Jared Nauma broke through some flimsy defence on the Panthers right edge before passing for winger Sione Finau to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was waved away, leaving the score at 18-4.
The visitors went back-to-back with another try three minutes before the break. Centre Antonio Sanele went himself out of dummy half and somehow got the ball down despite the attention of three tacklers. Five-eighth Daniel Atkinson struck the conversion well to cut the Panthers lead to eight points.
HALF-TIME – Panthers 18 – Thunderbolts 10
After a few nervous moments to start the second half, the Panthers hit back as some slick work on the left edge saw winger Logan Dickon dive over in the corner. Puru’s attempted conversion struck the post and missed but the Panthers led 22-10.
The home side restored their original lead again in the 48th minute as some quick play saw centre Elone Taufa break through and Hohepa Puru was backing up on the inside to score. The successful conversion made the score 28-10.
However the young Panthers side kept the Thunderbolts in the contest by immediately dropping the kick-off, then allowing forward Teofilo Seigafo to barge over from close range. With the conversion on target, the lead was back to 12 points.
With 14 minutes left in the game, some smart work from Mason delaying the pass out of dummy half fooled the defence and allowed prop Ilai Tuia to score under the black dot. Another simple conversion from Puru gave the Panthers a 34-16 lead.
The Thunderbolts scored a late consolation try through winger Brandon Saena before the Sub Laban grabbed his second try for the Panthers as the final siren sounded.
FULL-TIME - Panthers 40 - Thunderbolts 20