A Jamie Soward inspired Panthers side have tonight secured themselves a Preliminary Final birth following a last-gasp, 19-18 victory over the reigning the Premiers the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
The lead changed hands throughout the full 80 minutes, however it was Soward who put the knife into the chest of the home side with a 79th minute field goal to wrap up the win.
It wasn’t until the 24th minute that the scoreboard attendant was up of his seat as the visitors opened their account through Josh Mansour, after the speedster was on the end of some quick hands from Jamal Idris.
It was just five minutes before the home side hit back however as former Panther Michael Jennings took on the blind side and proved too strong and too fast as the NSW centre crashed his way over.
A James Maloney conversion from the sideline saw the Roosters take the lead 6-4, where it would stay until the half time break.
The Roosters come out firing in the second half and despite Mitchell Pearce looking to have scored under the sticks, an Anthony Minichiello knock on in the contest for the bomb with Matt Moylan saw it called back by the video referee.
It didn’t take long for the Tricolours to hit back though as replacement dummy-half Jackson Hastings took a chance down the blind side late in the tackle count before finding Shaun Kenny-Dowall who showed his skill with ball in hand to dummy, step and stretch his arm to slam the ball down for the second half’s first try.
An accidental high-shot from Maloney six minutes later saw the visitors awarded a penalty and prime attacking position inside the Roosters half, before they opted to bring it wide early in the tackle count to find a flying Dean Whare who danced his way through the line to close the gap to just two with less than half an hour remaining.
End-to-end footy followed and yet another ill-disciplined error afforded the Panthers a shot at goal through a penalty to level it up at 12-all.
With the crowd on the edge of their seats it wasn’t until the 73rd minute that the tie was broken as Pearce took on the Panthers line with a dummy and big step off the left foot to find himself in space and under the sticks for a lead-snatching four-pointer.
However the Footy Gods had different ideas for how this was to play out…
A deep kick from Soward on the last was allowed to roll into touch on the goal line by Minichiello, however a flying Dallin Watene-Zelezniak managed to bat the ball infield for his centre Whare who dived on it to score.
A number of looks from the video referee saw the on-field referee’s decision of try retained and allowed Soward a chance to level it up once again, from the sideline.
The Panthers captain overcame plenty of noise from the Roosters faithful behind him and slotted the extras, before again proving the difference just a matter of minutes later with a 40m field goal to secure his side’s win.