Panthers' turn their den into house of pain for opposition
BILOELA Panthers maintained their unbeaten season on Saturday night with a hard fought 26-14 win over Norths Chargers.
The win consolidated the Panthers third place on the Rockhampton Rugby League Premiership table and closed the gap on second place Rockhampton Brothers who also sit on 10 premiership points but have a better points differential.
In a stinging first half both the Panthers and Chargers threw everything at each other defensively with both sides pulling off some big hits.
With defence dominating it took an unexpected gamble to run the ball on the fifth tackle for the Panthers to score out wide to winger Dan Austin.
The Chargers made sure that the lead was only temporary though, as they not long later sliced through the Panthers right edge to take a 6-4 lead. Continual scrambling defence and some errors by both sides in execution saw the Chargers take their two-point lead into the half-time break.
The half-time break again seemed to do no favours for the Panthers and, as has been the case all season, they came out with more of a meow than a roar and in a worrying sign for coach Ryan Wilson again allowed their opponents to seize the initiative by letting in two tries to the Chargers off silly errors.
With only 20 minutes to go the Panthers unbeaten run at home this season looked to be on shaky ground at 14-4 down.
The Panthers seemingly finally awoke from their slumber after an altercation between centre Ryan Wilson and a Norths player left both in the sin bin.
A re-energized and refocussed Panthers then played like a team possessed as they began to cut a swath through a tiring Chargers defence to run in four unanswered tries to Daniel Martin, Byron Hassle, Caine Austin and Bailey Nairn all scored during the final stanza allowing the Panthers to come away with a dramatic win.
Panthers Coach Ryan Wilson was again full of praise for his young side's resilience.
"Well, the crowd got a bit of everything tonight,” Wilson said.
"Not great for my heart but I'm sure everyone here certainly enjoyed it. It was one of our most intense games of the season.
"Big hits, tries and a massive comeback like that. You can't ask for much more of a spectacle.
"There will be a lot of sore boys out their tomorrow on both sides and all credit to Norths because they are a very tough footy team.”
Wilson identified Shane Carter and Byron Hassle as being instrumental for the Panthers.
In reserve grade, the Panthers went down 30-26 with Karl Stevens being the stand-out player.
In the under 20's the Panthers lost on the scoreboard 56-4 and in the penalty count 20-2, with Codie Craft and Zac Baldwin leading the way in a losing side.
Next Sunday, the Panthers travel away to take on Emu Park who moved one place behind the Panthers after the weekend courtesy to the Panthers win over Norths. The Panthers will need to beat Emu Park on Sunday to retain third position and also attempt to close the gap on the second place Rockhampton Brothers. Yeppoon Seagulls remain in first place while the Woorabinda Warriors remain in sixth position in the 10 team premiership competition.