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Panthers produce thrilling comeback to win SG Ball title

Penrith Panthers have clawed back from a 20-0 half-time deficit to beat the Sydney Roosters 22-20, claiming the SG Ball Cup at CommBank Stadium on Saturday.

With scores locked at 20-all with two minutes remaining, Keagan Russell-Smith landed a conversion from the sideline to give his side a memorable come-from-behind victory. 

The Roosters asserted their dominance early, scoring four tries in the opening half as the Panthers battled to stay alive.

But a second-half double to Jesse McLean and tries to captain Mason Teague and Angelis Hotere-Papalii would afford the Panthers an opportunity to claim the title.

Russell-Smith kicked three from four conversions, while a man-of-the-match performance from Isaiya Katoa sealed the Panthers' ninth SG Ball Cup premiership.

The Roosters were first to open their account off a cut-out pass from halfback Cassius Tia, which found Xavier Chatfield-Mooka unmarked on the wing. But the conversion from touch proved too difficult for fullback Benjamin Dufficy, keeping Sydney’s lead at four points.

Three minutes later the Roosters extended their advantage through Dufficy, after he received an offload from centre Robert Toia which put him in the clear. This time Dufficy slotted the conversion from in-front, kicking the Roosters to a 10-point lead.

Six minutes later the Roosters claimed another try after Tia dodged and weaved his way through a collection of Panthers before putting the ball down on the line. Dufficy had no luck with the conversion but the Roosters maintained a 14-point advantage.

A barnstorming run from Tia gave the tri-colours another chance to score, as Benaiah Ioelu scooped the ball up from dummy half catching the Panthers off-guard before diving over the line. Dufficy added the extras from close range to put the Roosters ahead 20-0.

A few late efforts from the Panthers saw them creep within try-scoring range, but a dropped ball on the put down by Isaiya Katoa halted the Panthers chances of getting on the board before the break.


The Panthers were first to strike in the second half after a 15-minute stalemate. A strong run from Hotere-Papalii drew in the defenders before offloading to McLean on the wing, who had a wealth of work to do to get the ball down.

McLean barrelled through the Roosters defence in the corner to ground the ball, but Keagan Russell-Smith failed to convert from touch.

Building momentum, Katoa created an opportunity for Panthers captain Mason Teague to draw back the deficit, sending him through a gap in the Roosters line to score under the posts. Russell-Smith made no mistake with the conversion, bringing the lead within 10-points.  

Capitalising on the tiring Sydney defence, the Panthers would rein in two tries in seven minutes on the left edge.

A quick ball from Harrison Hassett connected with Hotere-Papalii to send him through the defence to put the ball down on the line. Russell-Smith made the conversion look easy, bringing the premiership within four points.

Crisp passing down the left side put McLean over in the corner once more, equaling the scores with four minutes left of play. Russell-Smith slotted the vital goal, giving the Panthers a 22-20 victory. 


Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.