Coote gives Panthers fans a welcome win
The Panthers celebrate with Lachlan Coote of the Panthers after he kicking a field goal in golden point time to win the match during the round 10 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Centrebet Stadium on May 14, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty Images
Lachlan Coote's thrilling golden-point field goal sealed a dramatic 13-12 win for the Panthers over St George Illawarra in last night's encounter at Penrith.
The win ended a run of eight successive home defeats for the Panthers, stretching back to round 19 last year, and vindicated Ivan Cleary's controversial decision to dump NSW centre Michael Jennings to reserve grade.
Cleary remained tight-lipped on whether Jennings, who was named in the NSW side for next week's State of Origin opener in Melbourne, would be able to regain his place, but said he wasn't surprised Blues coach Ricky Stuart called on his services.
Lachlan Coote of the Panthers celebrates kicking a field goal in golden point time to win the match during the round 10 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Centrebet Stadium on May 14, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Getty Images
''I wish him all the best and hope he does well next week,'' Cleary said of his absent star.
''Ricky said that he has picked a side to score points and he certainly can do that so it didn't really surprise me.''
The former Warriors mentor also denied his decision to axe Jennings had been a wake-up call to the rest of his squad and said it was only a matter of time until they ended their wretched run of results.
''Our boys have been trying hard every week and it was going to come right at some stage,'' he said.
''We have been down on a bit of confidence and although we didn't get as much ball as we would have liked in the first half, it was probably a good thing to win that way.''
Dragons coach Steve Price admitted he was frustrated with a poor decision by Mitch Rein that led to a promising move breaking down when the visitors were chasing the win with two minutes remaining.
''We had an opportunity late in the game where we went left when the ball should have gone right,'' Price said.
Price's miserable evening was compounded by a serious looking knee injury to Michael Weyman, who was carried off after making a tackle early in the second half.
Utility Nathan Fien also limped off in the final minute of normal time forcing prop Dan Hunt to fill the playmaker role in golden point.
The hosts laid the foundations for the win with two tries in as many first-half minutes from Ryan Simpkins and Kevin Kingston as the Dragons, who were without injured five-eighth Jamie Soward, failed to fire in attack.
Simpkins put the hosts in front with his first ever NRL try after 18 minutes after good work out of dummy-half from Kingston.
Kingston then doubled the lead in almost identical fashion, darting over from close range in front of the posts, allowing Blake Austin to kick his second goal of the game. AAP