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2014 NRL Round 3, Panthers 18 Bulldogs 16 – QLDPanthers

Panthers celebrate victory - via https://twitter.com/mybsidelife
Panthers celebrate victory – via https://twitter.com/mybsidelife

Jamie Soward and Matt Moylan clutched victory from the jaws of defeat as Penrith edged out Canterbury 18-16 in a Saturday afternoon thriller at SportingBet Stadium.

Back to back penalties in the final minutes gave Penrith a golden opportunity to level the game.  Jamie Soward’s masterstroke play was a long pass that found the chest of Kevin Naiqama who scored in the corner.

With Peter Wallace a withdrawal from the side and Soward not kicking, it was left to Moylan to attempt the sideline conversion.  Having only sixteen National Rugby League games under his belt, the adrenaline kicked in as he lined up the conversion.  Having missed earlier a similar attempt and the threat of the game going into added time, Moylan kicked the ball sweetly between the posts for a nail biting victory.

The players celebrated as one, notably ex-Bulldog Jamal Idris along with many of the thirteen thousand who attended the game.

It was a contrast of halves with Penrith in total dominance during the first forty, and Canterbury the stronger in the final period.

Penrith opened the scoring as the Dean Whare-David Simmons combination was reunited in grand style.  Simmons providing a pass back on the inside for Whare to cross.  Adam Docker was denied a short time later after some handy work from Sam Perrett to dislodge the ball from the lock forward.

It wouldn’t be too long before Simmons scored one of his own.  This time leaping uncontested for a Jamie Soward cross-field kick.  Simmons would come under heavy scrutiny from the Bulldogs where on several occasions he was checked in kick chases.

Few opportunities came for the Bulldogs in the opening half as they looked disinterested and lacking energy after a big win over Cronulla on Monday night.  In a play that stretched from the Panthers half and included a forward pass, Trent Hodgkinson crossed to reduce the lead to four.  The Brisbane Times reporting in their post match article:

Youngster Drury Low broke free of his tackler to burst down the left flank and found Josh Morris with a forward pass that was noticed by everyone in the ground apart from the referees and touch judge, who were trailing in the wake of the play.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-match-report/matt-moylans-sideline-conversion-hands-penrith-lastgasp-win-against-canterbury-20140322-hvln7.html#ixzz2wgmMc9vU

The only other notable chance of the half came through Soward taking a chance on the last tackle with a chip and chase, then kicking wide for Simmons.  Simmons was tackled into touch before grounding the ball.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler literally put a rocket up his team at the break as the stalemate continued for the first twenty minutes of the second half despite a penalty goal to Moylan, and Tim Lafai going within a footstep of scoring.

With fifteen minutes remaining Canterbury’s sustained pressure was rewarded with rookie Corey Thompson scoring in the corner.  Hodgkinson’s conversion levelled the scores.  They took the lead after a Panthers error in the follow up to Drury Low scoring in the corner with eight remaining on the clock.

Penrith appeared defeated and struggling to get out of their own half.  Piggyback penalties in the final three minutes provided the Panthers with one last chance to win the game.  The experience of Soward to sum up the situation and find Naiqama in space is refreshing and morale boosting after the hot and cold era of Luke Walsh.

Vale: End of the new rules 2014

It’s hard to stick up for referee’s Ben Cummins and Gavin Reynolds in light of the way the match was controlled.  Des Hasler instructed the Bulldogs to win the battle on the ground, and succeeded to slow down at the play the ball without punishment from the referee’s.  This possibly cost Penrith a runaway lead at the break as the Bulldogs appeared hung over from their demolition of Cronulla.  To further frustrate Panther fans, Canterbury received immediately after the break a penalty for holding down at the play the ball.  This was on top of a forward pass leading to the Dogs first try that left Panther fans with a sour taste in their mouth.

It was great to watch quick footy for the first eighteen games of the season but alas, as per usual the interpretations reverted back to last year so quickly after being implemented.

Adam Docker on report

Not the best of days for Docks.  Denied a try with a desperate play from Sam Perrett, Docker is on report for a lifting tackle off the ball on James Graham.  He will have a case to answer, but hopefully his good record will keep the ban down to a week.

Tony Williams the ire of Bulldogs and Panther fans

Tony Williams is copping it from everyone post-match.  Panther fans seething after a high tackle on poor Dave Simmons, described by the Bulldogs official Twitter account:

BOOOM! Tony Williams with a big shot, but penalty to the Panthers. Under 3 minutes left, and Bulldogs lead by 4!

— Canterbury Bulldogs (@NRLBulldogsNews) March 22, 2014

Surely the Bulldogs aren’t condoning illegal play! But the final word was with their fans.  Sick and tired of Williams not putting in an effort worthy of his pay packet. This pretty much was the icing on the cake for the Williams critics:

NRL Tony Williams should be charged with Robbery for taking big money for very little return if he’s not a NSW Cup Star then I’m a bad judge

— Ray Turner (@Magician1959) March 22, 2014

The tape has been found

We reported in our post match review of the Knights game how Panther fans were upset that Go The Mighty Panthers theme song wasn’t played in victory.  It was fitting that Matty’s winning goal was greeted by the song blasting over the PA system.  Now that fan’s have won the day, it’s time for us to send a vote of confidence in the team by getting there in bigger numbers than the thirteen thousand on hand today.

Sweet victory

Penrith’s last minute win breaks a fourteen year period by winning the first two home games of any season.  They’ll be hoping for a third consecutive victory when we host Canberra in round 5.  I’ll have a deeper look at the record books to see if this team can continue to break the mould of previous Panther sides over the years.  The signs so far are good.

Photo provided by Bennywise on Twitter. Follow him at @mybsidelife

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