Panthers get out of jail against Cowboys

Two tries in the final ten minutes have helped the Penrith Panthers secure a much needed 24-16 win over a spirited North Queensland Cowboys outfit at CUA Stadium.

Coming off three straight losses the Panthers needed to win to stay inside the top four and, despite trailing for the majority of the contest, managed to escape with an unlikely victory.

The home team trailed 16-10 at the 70th minute mark before Nathan Smith ran the ball on the last and found Kevin Kingston in support to lock the scores up at 16-all.

Winger Michael Gordon then gave the Panthers the lead for the first time in the 75th minute when he darted and swerved from dummy half to score a brilliant 50 metre solo-try. A Gordon penalty goal after the siren put the gloss on a memorable Penrith finish.

It was a another case of so close yet so far for the Cowboys. However, for a side running second, Penrith were far from convincing.

The first half was a tit-for-tat affair with the Cowboys opening the scoring through Will Tupou, who dived over following a long ball from Matt Bowen.

But Penrith hit back when Gorden scored off a near identical movement, this time it was Luke Lewis providing the looping pass to the unmarked winger.

North Queensland then took a 12-6 lead in the 21st minute when WIllie Tonga strolled through a gap thanks to a perfectly timed Thurston pass.

Panthers flanker Brad Tighe levelled the scoreboard at 12-all before Ash Graham capitalised on a crossfield chip kick - another Thurston try assist - to give his side a 16-10 lead at the break.

Neither team troubled the scorers for the majority of the second stanza but Penrith were denied in cruel cirucumstances in the 62nd minute. Gordon looked to have scored in the corner only to have it disallowed when the video referee ruled Lewis offside from a Walsh bomb - a marginal call at best.

However, Penrith couldn't be denied when Kingston crossed before Gordon secured victory with a try of his own.

North Queensland face Brisbane at home next Friday night, while Penrith face Canberra in the nation's capital.

Match Details
Penrith Panthers 24 defeated North Queensland Cowboys 16
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 21 - Friday July 30, 2010 7:35pm
Venue: CUA Stadium
Referee: Steve Lyons and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Steve Clark
Touch Judges: David Abood and Ricky McFarlane
Crowd: 7080
Halftime: Penrith Panthers 10 North Queensland Cowboys 16 players of the match:
3 Points - Luke Lewis
2 Points - Kevin Kingston (1 Try)
1 Point - Petero Civoniceva

Penrith Panthers (24)
Tries: Brad Tighe, Michael Gordon (2), Kevin Kingston
Conversions: Michael Gordon (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Michael Gordon (1/1)

North Queensland Cowboys (16)
Tries: Ashley Graham, Willie Tonga, Will Tupou
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (2/3) Live Commentary Welcome to a very cold and rainy CUA Stadium for the clash between Penrith and North Queensland. It's an extremely important match for the second-placed Panthers, who are staring down the ominous barrel of four losses in a row. In a positive, Luke Lewis makes his timely return from injury.

The Cowboys should be buoyed by their win over the Knights last weekend - I think we'll see a confident side tonight.

North Queensland claimed the Under 20s fixture 38-18.

Team Changes
Panthers: Matthew Bell replaces McKendry in the starting lineup. Iosefa comes in for Wade Graham on the bench.
Cowboys: As per program.
1 min: Cowboys kick off! They're wearing green socks tonight, maybe they're supporting the Greens in the upcoming Federal election..
1 min: Petero Civoniceva loses the ball on the second tackle, very uncharacteristic.
2 min: Thurston grubbers across field but Coote saves the day and knocks it dead.
4 min: TRY
North Queensland Cowboys TRY
The Cowboys spin the ball wide close to the line and Matt Bowen throws a pinpoint cutout onto the chest of Will Tupou, who simply dives over in the corner. Thurston converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-0
6 min: Strong start from North Queensland but Penrith haven't had any ball yet.
9 min: Johnathan Thurston kicks out on the full, Panthers with the ball inside the Cowboys 20.
11 min: Errors galore at the moment, first Purtell and now Scott Bolton returns the favour.
12 min: TRY
Penrith Panthers TRY
Michael Gordon crosses after a long pass from Luke Lewis found the winger unmarked. Almost identical to the Cowboys try that one.. Gordon converts.
6 all
14 min: Penrith starting to build some momentum and the Cowboys look pretty unenthusiastic.
16 min: Ash Graham diffuses a Walsh kick but he gets caught in the ingoal - goal line drop out.
18 min: A loose Penrith pass hits the deck and Ash Graham scoops up the ball and nearly breaks free.
20 min: Cowboys get six again on the Penrith line.
21 min: TRY
North Queensland Cowboys TRY
A brillant pass from Johnathan Thurston puts centre Willie Tonga through for a try. Tonga ran into the gap beautifully but the ball from Thurston was perfectly timed. Thurston converts.
North Queensland Cowboys 12-6
23 min: Willie Mason knocks on, golly they're a rollercoaster ride the Cowboys - such a good try just prior to that basic error.
26 min: Ty Williams fumbles now but then Pritchard knocks on - a cake of soap would be easier to hold at the moment.
27 min: Thurston gets penalised for dissent towards the pocket referee and the Cowboys are under pressure on their own line.
28 min: TRY
Penrith Panthers TRY
Penrith hit back through Brad Tighe, who gets down low and burrows over in the corner. Wow, Penrith are scoring without having to rely on a kick. What's going on? Gordon fails to convert.
12 all
31 min: Cowboys kick off is out on the full. I honestly don't know how they're ahead on the scoreboad.
33 min: Actually I do know how they're ahead, Penrith get caught with the ball on the last and then give away a penalty.
34 min: McKendy get penalised for tripping Thurston as he was chasing through a kick.
35 min: TRY Northern Storm
North Queensland Cowboys TRY
Johnathan Thurston chips to the wing for a flying Ash Graham to regather on the full, bump off the defence and touch down. Thurston fails to convert.
North Queensland Cowboys 16-10
39 min: Cowboys put some offloads together but the Penrith defence converges and shuts it down.
40 min: Panthers get penalised after the sirem, one last shot for the Cowboys before the break.
Halftime: It's hard to believe it's second v third last at the moment. The Cowboys have done well to take their opportunites but are still making too many errors, while Penrith lack the fluency and energy of earlier in the season.
41 min: Second half is underway! Penrith need to get their act together.
44 min: The most suspended man in the NRL, Luke O'Donnell, gets penalised as Penrith attack the Cowboys line.
47 min: Luke Walsh bombs high but Matty Bowen is as safe as a house.
48 min: Willie Tonga finds some space out wide and then Thurston finds touch inside Penrith's 10 metre zone - nice composed play there.
50 min: Thurston kicks for touch yet again, this time on the other side of the field.
51 min: Petero Civoniceva breaks through the line! But the big prop has the ball knocked out by Thurston in cover.
54 min: Cowboys force two goal line drop outs in a row - great pressure, Penrith look shaky.
55 min: Anthony Watts leaves the field in a groggy state - he fell in the tackle and collided with Civoniceva's knee. Ouch..
55 min: A third straight drop out for the Panthers..
57 min: Thurston grubbers for Will Topou but the winger in bundled out - resolute Penrith defence in the past few minutes.
58 min: Carl Webb yet to enter the field tonight, someone should grab him a meat pie to keep him occupied.
61 min: Luke Lewis hits a short ball from Walsh but can't hang on to the pass.
62 min: Video referee - possible Panthers try..
62 min: No Try! It must have been for offside when Walsh put a kick up. I'm stunned, it all looked fine to me, benefit of the doubt at the very worst. Terrible call.
65 min: Walsh bombs high again, it's becoming all too predictable from Penrith. A penalty compounds their woes and they're starting to run out of time.
66 min: Purtell intercepts a Carl Webb flick pass and a penalty puts them inside the Cowboys half. The game can change so quickly.
68 min: Frank Pritchard with a surge for the line but as he tries to offload, he drops it.
70 min: TRY
Penrith Panthers TRY
A try from nowhere to the Panthers! They run the ball on the last and Nathan Smith finds himself in the clear and amongst a number of defenders he holds the pass back, draws the defence and finds Kev Kingston in support. Gordon converts and we're locked up!
16 all
73 min: Penrith have finally found a second gear, as they offload willy nilly.
74 min: Matt Bowen runs on the fifth but is taken down one-on-one.
75 min: TRY
Penrith Panthers TRY
Michael Gordon takes a routine run from dummy half but swerves and accelerates, breaking through the line before beating the fullback. Great 50 metre solo-try from dummy half! Gordon converts.
Penrith Panthers 22-16
77 min: Cowboys go for the short kick off but Penrith regather, I don't know how they've managed to get out of jail here.
79 min: Bowen goes for a chip over the top but the ball doesn't clear the defensive line.
Michael Gordon slots a penalty goal on the stroke of fulltime to add an extra two points to the scoreline.
Penrith Panthers 24-16

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