Panthers clip Seagulls wings with moments to spare
BILOELA Panthers subjected both their coach and fans to a rollercoaster ride to victory against the Tannum Seagulls 30-20 at home on Saturday night.
Panthers left their runlate but timed it to perfection as they regained the lead and ultimately sealed victory with two tries in the last four minutes of the game.
Halfback Jayden Alberts carried the whole Panthers club's hopes on his shoulders when he split a resilient Tannum defence from the scrum base deep inside Panthers territory and ran 90m to score under the posts and regain the lead for the home side.
A try two minutes later to Dan Austin in the corner sealed victory for the Panthers team, consolid- ating its position on the Rockhampton Rugby League premiership table.
As has been the case all year, the Panthers began with positive aggression in both attack and defence which allowed them to run in three quick tries in the first 20 minutes, with Rhyse Giles punctuating a double to fullback Phil Futi.
A more even distribution of football toward the end of the first half saw a committed Tannum Sands fight back to score two tries of its own before the Panthers capped off a strong first-half performance with a try to Padraic Wilkie.
The 18-8 half-time score proved to be an invaluable lead for the home side.
The break appeared to work wonders for Tannum players, who came out the more focussed of the two sides, as they made the Panthers pay for poor discipline and ball control errors and piled on two tries to take a narrow 20-18 lead.
Time and again the Panthers struggled to translate possession into opportunities as a commit- ted Tannum side and the Panthers' own errors denied them much-needed points.
With both sides out on their feet, the Panthers' crowd lifted the spirits and energy levels of the home side and helped them get across the line twice during the last four minutes of play and ensure the Panthers remained unbeaten at home.
A relieved Panthers coach, Ryan Wilson, was more than happy to take the win and collect valuable premiership points after a couple of gutsy but ultimately futile matches on the road against heavyweights Yeppoon and Rockhampton Brothers.
Wilson acknowledged a vocal home town crowd had definitely inspired the Panthers in the final five minutes of the match.
Panthers reserve grade went down 50-24 with Stuart Surman and Damian Wilson being the best for the Panthers.
In the under 20s the Panthers won convincingly 44-14. Jacob Heid was named man of the match while backrowers Nathan Walker and Haemish Thornton turned in their best performances of the season so far.
The Panthers host the Woorabinda Warriors on Sunday.