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Panthers prevail in tense tussle with Roosters

Matt Burton scored a double as the Penrith Panthers held off a fast-finishing Sydney Roosters side 20-14 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Burton was at his devastating best in a man-of-the-match display that featured two tries along with 205 run metres, seven tackle busts, two linebreaks and 322 kick metres. 

The forward pack also laid the platform for victory with Scott Sorensen in particular making the most of a 39-minute stint with 139 metres. 

While there were a few standout individual performances, the Panthers were forced to come together as a team and repel a resilient Roosters outfit in what was a seesawing contest. 

A six-again call saw the Roosters briefly camp themselves in the red zone early but the Panthers scrambled in defence and were rewarded soon after with the opening try.  

Viliame Kikau threw a beautiful cut-out pass after drawing in defenders and put Burton away down the sideline. 

The Panthers five-eighth converted his own try to make it 6-0 after 10 minutes. 

The Roosters continued to threaten though with Joey Manu in particular proving a handful in defence but it was Victor Radley who hit back for the hosts, crashing over under the posts off a Sam Verrills pass. 

Adam Keighran slotted the two points to lock the game up at 6-all halfway through the first 40. 

Burton’s kicking game proved a crucial advantage for the Panthers early in a tight contest but it was a Jarome Luai bomb that led to Penrith’s next points. 

Once again the threat from Kikau had the Roosters defence interested as Sam Walker was pinged for an escort, seeing Burton steer through the penalty goal. 

Luai’s boot almost produced the goods again minutes later, with Paul Momirovski on the spot for a four-pointer had he caught the halfback’s bomb.  

The Roosters though, like they had all night, immediately heaped the pressure on Penrith as Taylan May came up with an early highlight on debut to save a try and bat dead a well-placed grubber.  

The Panthers held their own in defence to deny the hosts and then had the Roosters under the pump, eventually drawing a sin bin after repeat infringements on their own line.  

Penrith took advantage right away as Paul Momirovski reached out to score in his first game back from injury.  

Burton hit the posts but a late penalty saw the five-eighth add the extras to give the Panthers a 14-6 lead at the break.  

HALF-TIME: Panthers 14 Roosters 6 

It was Burton once more making his mark early in the second, first spotting space through the middle and racing away only to be tackled 10 metres out by James Tedesco.  

Daniel Tupou knocked the ball down on the following play to deny the Panthers but Burton took on the line again off the scrum and this time found success, forcing his way over for his second of the night.  

The Dubbo product converted his own try to extend the lead out to 14 after 50 minutes. 

Burton continued to stamp his authority on the game after forcing a dropout soon after but the Panthers could not capitalise, with Joey Manu instead scoring in the 58th minute as the Roosters reduced the deficit to 10. 

The Panthers had a few opportunities to put the Roosters away but could not execute and were punished as Daniel Tupou went over in the corner to set up a thrilling finish.  

May then came agonisingly close to scoring the match-winning try on debut but put his foot on the sideline.  

It was the Roosters’ turn to go within metres of a try next, with a brilliant try-saving effort from Charlie Staines and Izack Tago denying Keighran. 

In the end the Panthers would hold a persistent Rooster side out with Burton’s boot the difference. 

FULL-TIME: Panthers 20 Roosters 14