The Panthers kicked off the Junior Representative season with four matches against the Dragons in front of over 2,000 fans at BlueBet Stadium.
TARSHA GALE CUP
Panthers 40 def. Dragons 0
The Panthers sealed their third win of the day on Saturday afternoon at BlueBet Stadium when the Tarsha Gale side won convincingly against the Dragons.
They started off on fire, and never took their foot off the pedal in a comprehensive shutout victory at home. Mesha Fretton and Julie Notise shone in attack whilst the edges were impossible to break defensively. The forwards dominated, and their defence the whole game was top notch, not allowing Dragons any chances.
First points came in the 5th minute, when Mesha Fretton crashed over after she retrieved a loose ball up above her head. She gained clean possession and scored under the post. Conversion successful, 6-0.
Just three minutes later, the Panthers were in again, when Julie Notisse tiptoed down the sideline to score an impressive try in the corner and extend the lead. Conversion unsuccessful, 10-0.
In the 13th minute, Jaida Staben broke the line with a sharp bit of footwork. She was taken down ten metres out from the line, Mesha Fretton took over setting up a nice try for Vineta Tiatia with a bit of deception, finding Tiatia with the short ball and she crashed over. Conversion successful, 16-0.
Four minutes later, Julie Notise had her first of two major contributions on the defensive end, when she stopped Alaiyah Williams from crashing over from close range. It was a great one on one stop that kept Dragons scoreless through the first 15 minutes.
Notise continued to be dominant in this game, going down the sideline again before a late offload found Mackenzie Doust who fell over untouched for the fourth try of the game. Conversion unsuccessful, 20-0.
The game continued to go the way of Penrith, when Daisy Mckeon took it out of dummy half from close range to crash over, the Dragons defenders unable to hold her up. Penrith were in for their 5th try of the game. Conversion successful, 26-0.
In the 43rd minute, Aaliyah Tahu-apiata punched straight through from 10 metres out and scored, extending the lead. Conversion successful, 32-0.
Just four minutes later, it was Daisy McKeon who provided the ball to Jaida Staben for another Penrith try. She popped out and found Staben on a short ball and she crashed over from close range. Conversion unsuccessful, 36-0.
The points kept flowing in the 51st minute when Montana McLean probed at the Dragons defence before opening up a gap for Taylor Keppie who went straight through from 10 metres out and scored, extending the lead. Conversion unsuccessful, 40-0.
The Dragons got what looked to be their first chance when Juanita Jang went through with two minutes remaining in the half, but once again it was Julie Notise to the rescue with a huge 1-on-1 stop.
-Jacob Tyson, Panthers Junior Reporter
SG BALL CUP
Dragons 26 def. Panthers 24
In a thrilling season opener, the SG Ball Panthers went down to the St George Dragons 24-26 at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Jack Edgar and Hokafonu Lemoto were all over attack and defensive for the Panthers, with the side working well together to showcase their impressive strength and power early.
An early run from Panthers Jenson Tuaoi in the 5th minute did not rattle the Dragons defence, with the away side quickly stopping the hooker in his tracks from crossing the line.
Dragons player Tyler Peckham-Harris opened the scoring in the 15th minute, with the fullback unable to be stopped, powering over the Panthers right-side defence to put the first points on the boards. Conversion unsuccessful. 4-0.
Another two quick tries in the next seven minutes saw the Dragons extend their lead to 16.
Hokafonu Lemoto showed his determination to etch his side back into the game, with a strong charge through the Dragons' middle defence saw the backrower put the ball over the line. A successful conversion from Harry Wald brought the home side’s points to 6.
Lemoto continued his impressive game with a late offload to Jack Attard who put a clean pass through to Panthers fullback Jaxen Edgar, who flew past the Dragons defensive line to secure the final points before the half-time whistle.
Lemoto's impressive play continued as he offloaded to Jack Attard, who passed cleanly to Penrith fullback Jaxen Edgar. Flying past the Dragons' defence, Edgar secured the final points before halftime.
Kicking off the second half in style Panthers captain Jack Ewer pushed his team into the lead for the first time in the game, with a nice cut-out ball seeing the lock swiftly finding himself over the line. Conversion successful, 18-16.
The Panthers utilised their bench following Ewer’s try with the Saturday afternoon heat clearly taking its toll on both teams.
In the 47th minute, Edgar outclassed the Dragons front line, breaking through the middle from the opposition's 30 metre line. A clean-cut pass to Attard on the right saw the duo steer clear of the Dragons defence, with a short pass back to Edgar creating an open space in goals for his second try of the game. Harry Wald’s kicking game was on fire, successfully converting again. 24-16.
The Panthers dominance was quickly challenged by the Dragons as a small hole in their defence brought the opposition closer to their home line.
Following two close calls for the Dragons, with three players held up in goals, did not slow the side down. A quick 4th tackle play created space for a clean pass to winger Zachariah Nachar, who dived over the line for a corner post try in the 53rd minute. Conversion unsuccessful, 24-20.
The Panthers suffered the loss of their captain Jack Ewer to an HIA during the break of play, with Jenson Tuaoi brought back onto the field.
The home side then absorbed a mountain of pressure fighting to the final minutes to remain in control of the game, defending their try line for a tough 10 minutes.
In the dying final minutes, the Dragons found themselves over the try line three times, however, all attempts were held up by the powerful home side defence.
With 45 seconds left on the clock, The Panthers' defensive efforts proved not strong enough with Dragons five-eighth Shadi Hammound finding a small gap to force his way into goal. The captain did not let the noise and pressure from the crowd phase him, converting his try to secure a Dragons Round 1 victory.
-Alyssa Bone, Panthers Junior Reporter
HAROLD MATTHEWS CUP
Panthers 44 def. Dragons 4
The Panthers Harold Matthews side sealed a comprehensive victory in Round 1 of the competition, beating the Dragons 44-4 at BlueBet stadium on Saturday.
It was a brilliant display of skill from start to finish, with halves Jhett Sydir and Cedric Peti-Tafola putting in dominant performances.
In the 3rd minute, Jhett Sydir opened up the Dragons defence with a step and a fend before finding his fullback, Jayden Carter, on the inside to give the Panthers their opening points. Conversion successful, 6-0.
The Panthers absorbed a couple of minutes of pressure on their goal line after multiple repeat sets and conceded penalties. After showing plenty of resolve in defence, the Panthers forced a Dragons error, regaining possession.
The next points came in the 16th minute, when a loose ball was retrieved by Penrith captain Hunter Bell. He found a gap in the defence and went straight through, before beating the Dragons fullback one on one to extend the lead. Conversion successful, 12-0.
The Dragons hit back just a few sets later, when a late offload from back rower Ratu Villiame Koroitamana found the quick hands of Ahmad Assaad who put Lucas Golovodovski over in the corner. Conversion unsuccessful, 12-4.
The second half started in similar fashion, when in the 34th minute, Charbel Kheirallah had a brilliant carry, offloading for Peti-tafola to break through the defence. Peti-Tafola found Sydir in support and the Panthers went over again. Conversion successful, 18-4.
In the very next set,the home side scored again, starting with a huge backline shift and finishing as a brilliant team try. Peti-Tafola found Heinz Lemoto down the short side, Lemoto offloaded for Iakopo who broke down the sideline, before drawing the fullback in, passing back inside for Peti-Tafola who finished a brilliant short side raid. Conversion unsuccessful, 22-4.
Peti-Tafola set Jahziah Palmer-Vaivalo up to score just a couple minutes later. Sydir started it, with a brilliant ball to Peti-Tafola who put Palmer-Vaivalo over with a sharp ball five metres in from touch. Peti-Tafola had three try involvements in a seven minute space to take the lead out to 24 by the 42nd minute. Conversion successful, 28-4.
The game went into a holding pattern for the next ten minutes with both sides making errors, and neither team getting a chance to attack the line. In the 53rd minute, the Panthers second run of consecutive tries started when Roman Tuiamau crashed over from close range. Conversion successful, 34-4.
The Dragons tried a short kick off, which bounced above everyone, before Cameron Bamblett snatched it out of the air, and found clear space in front of him. Cover defenders came across, but he found Sydir inside, who had one to beat with 25 metres still to go. Steven Whalan emerged in support and the Panthers scored again. Conversion unsuccessful, 38-4.
The Panthers then put the icing on the cake in the final minute, when Jhett Sydir finished his dominant performance with another line break, taken down 20 metres out from the Dragons line. Off the very next play Heinz Lemoto crashed over under the sticks making it 42-4. Jayden Carter's conversion was successful, 44-4.
-Jacob Tyson, Panthers Junior Reporter
LISA FIAOLA CUP
Panthers 36 def. Dragons 0
It was a perfect start to the Panthers' Lisa Fiaola Cup campaign, with the home side scoring seven unanswered tries to thrash the Dragons by 36 points at BlueBet Stadium.
Panthers centre Hannah Ison was impressive throughout the 60 minutes as she bagged a hat-trick, while Jade Elford starred at fullback with a double.
Ison opened the scoring after just seven minutes before Fatafehi-Marie Mahe double the Panthers' advantage in the 21st minute. Mya Muller was successful with both conversions.
Tries to Elford on either side of half-time gave the Panthers a 22-point lead to put the home side in a great position.
With victory all-but-secured, Alyssa Gibbons scored a four-pointer and Ison completed her hat-trick late in the second half.