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In front of a vocal crowd at WIN Stadium, including friends and family of Tingha aboard the Tingha express, the home side did it well to defeat the Panthers by 34-28 in an action packed battle from start to finish.
A couple of controversial video ref decisions did not go the Panthers way, but that's in no way taking anything from a Dragons pack that today would probably defeated any team in the NRL competition. The commitment both on defence and attack was evident right from the onset.
The never say die attitude by the Penrith side saw them crawl back into the game after being behind at one stage by 20-0.
A high scoring first half had the Dragons ahead at the break by 24-10.
The second half was as fast and furious as the first 40 minutes, giving the crowd at WIN Stadium their money's worth. Both sides there to win, scoring points, Blacklock getting a hat trick and almost 4 tries, the game had it all right to the final whistle.
Scorers: DRAGONS 34 Tries: Riddell, Blacklock 3, Howell, Cooper Goals: Riddell (3/4), Firman (2/3) defeated PANTHERS 28 Tries: Campbell 2, Rooney 2, Whatuira Goals: Girdler (4/5)
Sunday 3 August 2003 3:00 PM WIN Stadium Referee: Paul Simpkins Video Referee: Eddie Ward
Leagueunlimited players of the match:
3 - L Thompson (Dragons) 2 - N Blacklock (Dragons) 1 - L Pridis (Panthers)
By the clock:
6th min: TRY - Riddell for Dragons. Choosing against the 2 points from a penalty close to the line, 5th tackle and Riddell crashes over the line. Riddell converts his own try from 15 metres in from touch. Dragons 6-0
12th min: PENALTY GOAL - Riddell for Dragons. Back to back penalties and the Dragons get further in front. Quick plays are rattling the Panthers defence. Dragons 8-0
15th min: TRY - Blacklock for Dragons. Tremendous effort by Blacklock close to the line, to turn and slam the ball down. This after being involved earlier in the attack from the overlap. Video ref awards the try. Riddell from 9 metres in from touch, gets a beauty kick. Dragons 14-0
19th min: NEWS - Firman (Dragons) very close to scoring after chipping over the defensive line, regathering. Unfortunately his pass went forward
22nd min: NEWS - Pridis (Panthers) disallowed a try from the video ref, deemed to be a double movement. Very debatable decision and one the Panthers fans in the crowd are disgraced by. No change to the score, Dragons lead 14-0
24th min: TRY - Howell for Dragons. Another controversial decision by the video ref, this time going the Dragons way. The ball seemed to have been knocked on by Blacklock, but the video ref says it went back. Firman converts the try. Dragons 20-0
27th min: TRY - Campbell for Panthers. Finally some luck goes the Panthers way, an intercept to Campbell who runs 90 metres to score. If he hadn't grabbed the intercept, the Dragons would've been in again. Girdler from 9 metres in, just misses Dragons 20-4
31st min: TRY - Rooney for Panthers. A perfect high kick by Campbell to his winger who jumps high and scores. Girdler from the same position as his last kick, adds the extra 2 points. Dragons 20-10
33rd min: TRY - Blacklock for Dragons. A typical Dragons try. Great go forward, a chip through by Firman who runs to the line, and Blacklock gets his second. Firman from just in the touch line, misses the kick. Dragons 24-10
39th min: NEWS - Lewis (Panthers) unlucky to score after a little chip through by Gower bounces in his face. He claims a try but the ref wants no part of it
HALF TIME: An action packed first half. Dragons lead 24-10
42nd min: NEWS - Hornby (Dragons) gets the call from the video ref disallowing his try. Dragons players in front of the kicker. Field position was excellent after Gower kicked the ball out on the full
45th min: TRY - Cooper for Dragons. A penalty gets the Dragons closer to the tryline. Very soft defence by the Panthers lets a flying Cooper over the line. Tremendous effort by the Dragons players to continue the way they've been playing throughout the first half. Firman adds the extra 2 points. Dragons 30-10
46th min: NEWS - Riddell (Dragons) downed by an accidental high shot. He stays on the field and play continues
52nd min: NEWS - Crunching defence by the Dragons stop the Panther attack on their tryline, dead. The score remains 30-10
54th min: TRY - Whatuira for Panthers. Swain breaks through Riddell's tackle and Whatuira is there in support. Girdler adds the 2 points. Dragons 30-16
57th min: TRY - Campbell for Panthers. Pridis breaks the defensive line at speed. A flying Campbell in support will never be caught. Girdler adds 2 points from the conversion. Dragons 30-22
65th min: NEWS - A see saw battle developing with neither side wanting to give up more points. Riddell (Dragons) put on report for a high shot
67th min: A 40/20 kick to Firman fires up his Dragons team mates. Tremendous play!
68th min: TRY - Blacklock for Dragons. Tingha gets his hat trick in front of his family. A hint of a forward pass but the points are there. Play from the scrum too easy for the Dragons who score on the 1st tackle. Riddell from the sideline, just shaves the upright and misses. Dragons 34-22
72nd min: NEWS - Firman(Dragons) goes for the field goal, charged down by Puletua, Panthers get possession
74th min: NEWS - Blacklock (Dragons) very very close to scoring with great acrobatics in the corner. The corner post was just taken out before he grounded the ball, tremendous effort though. Dragons remain 34-22 in front
77th min: TRY - Rooney for Panthers. Excellent break by Girdler to set up Rooney for the corner. The wingers arms stretch out and scores. Another call for the video ref, who has worked overtime. Girdler right on the sideline, gets another of those classic kicks. Dragons 34-28
FULL TIME: The Panthers try right to the end, to the two siren, but the Dragons too good on the day and deserve the win