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Michael Gordon scored a brace in a tight 14-12 Roosters victory over a tough Panthers side in front of 11,044 fans at Penrith tonight.
It was a greasy night at the foot of the mountains which made it ideal for the forwards and Dylan Napa signalled his intentions from the opening hit for this to be a intense contest between the two forward packs.
In a first half that was dominated more by the whistle than points being scored, it wasn't surprising that the first points came from the boot. After repeated infringements, Nathan Cleary piloted the first of his three penalty goals tonight for a 2-nil lead.
Panthers built on their lead in the 25th minute, as Matt Moylan, with the defense rushing towards him produced a lovely flick pass for Tyrone Peachey. The centre still had work to do, and rose high in the corner to plant it down. Cleary added the extras for 8-nil Panthers.
Roosters have shown grit through their opening two games of the season, and it was Michael Gordon returning to his old stomping ground - this time in red, white and blue that answered the call. The evergreen fullback spotted a gap in the line and exploded through the gap for his sixth try in seven games at the foot of the mountains. Importantly it was 8-6 and the Roosters were back in the contest.
Surprisingly the Roosters found themselves with the half-time lead! Mitchell Pearce shovelled it down the left side to give fellow Mitchell space to roam into before an interchange of passes and it landed back in the hands of Latrell to make it 10-8 at the break.
The second half followed the same script of the first as points were at a premium. Nathan Cleary had the only points for the home side, as he piloted a pair of penalty goals through the sticks within the first ten minutes of the resumption to make it 12-10.
That would be the way the score stuck for most of the half, as both teams went close - Panthers flyer Waqa Blake thought he had a try but was chalked off due to chasers being offside. Roosters almost went in after a mad scramble Shaun Kenny-Dowall had knocked on.
In a close contest, it was a feat of individual brilliance which secured the victory. Roosters sprung to their left minutes after Blake's chalked off effort and Michael Gordon was in space, dribbled through for himself and touched down for the winner!
Roosters continue their perfect start to season 2017 and it is the first time they went undefeated through the first three rounds since 2004, a year in which they eventual grand finalists.