Penrith 18 Canterbury 16
Dean Whare of the Panthers scores in the corner. Photo: Getty Images
Through one of the most unlikely of heroes, Penrith clinched victory from the jaws of defeat as deputy goalkicker Matt Moylan landed a stunning sideline conversion on the stroke of full-time to seal a hard-fought win against Canterbury.
Moylan showed tremendous composure as he lined up his kick from the sideline before landing the ball over the black dot as the siren echoed across the stadium.
Aiden Tolman carries the ball into contact. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Whare, Simmons, Naiqama||Tries||3||Tries||3||Players||Hodkinson, Thompson, Low|
|Players||Moylan 2/3 (66%)||Conversions||2||Conversions||2||Players||Hodkinson 2/3 (66%)|
|Players||Moylan 1/1 (100%)||Penalty goals||1||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
A minute earlier and coach Ivan Cleary was facing the daunting prospect of a 10-point lead counting for nothing as a determined Canterbury side appeared to have snared a rugged comeback. Despite having just a five-day turnaround, Canterbury still had enough left in the tank to out-muscle Penrith by scoring three unanswered tries only to slip at the final hurdle, allowing Kevin Naiqama to score an equalising try with the last play of the game.
The Panthers drew first blood when David Simmons soared above his marker to take down Jamie Soward's bomb early in the game. Surrounded by tacklers, the winger was aware enough to off-load to the on-rushing Dean Whare before being tackled into touch, allowing his centre to acrobatically score the opener. It set the tone of the first half as the combination of Soward and Simmons tormented the Bulldogs, who, aside from a rare line break by Trent Hodkinson, were pinned within their own half and without the ball.
Sloppy play-the-balls, poor decisions and penalties gave the Panthers control of the game and through Soward and Simmons, they crossed yet again.The new Panthers half picked out his winger with a precise chip into the corner, giving Simmons the simple task of grounding without any significant pressure from a tackler.
The Bulldogs eventually found a way through but even so, it was guided by luck more than ability.
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. Hodkinson followed up the play to finish the move to draw the Bulldogs back into the contest, though the Panthers could feel aggrieved with the infringement in the build-up.
There was more fight in the Dogs after the restart but their rusty handling proved to be their undoing. By contrast, Penrith reverted to more industrious play as Soward wasn't given the same freedom to roam as he was in the first half. Their backs were starved of possession as a battle among the forwards engulfed the match, a battle the Bulldogs had the lead in.
After testing Penrith's resilient defence, they finally broke their line when a slip pass from Josh Reynolds to Corey Thompson allowed the winger to score in the corner. Trent Hodkinson then squared the ledger at 12-all by converting from the sidelines, showing superb composure in spite of the raucous noise from the stands.
They had to wait only a matter of minutes before taking a deserved lead for the first time in the match. From a scrum inside 20 metres, Reynolds darted to the right and played Low into space and the pacey winger beat Jamal Idris to the line.
it looked to be the nail in the coffin for the Panthers, but a needless penalty by the Dogs gave the hosts one last shot at redemption.