The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Penrith Panthers 17 v North Queensland Cowboys 8
at CUA Stadium, Penrith
Referees: Ben Cummins
The Penrith Panthers have kept their dream of a finals appearance alive with a low scoring 17- 8 victory over an ordinary Cowboys outfit. The Cowboys led 2-0 at halftime in a tryless opening stanza half thanks to a 12th minute penalty goal from Queensland halfback Johnathon Thurston.
In what was pretty much the only exciting passage of the first half, the scoreboard attendants fell asleep on the job and forgot to press the half time siren. The players were left playing for an extra half a minute before referee Ben Cummins got a message from his video referee to blow half time.
I'm not sure what the coaches said at halftime but the players came out wanting some action and straight after the break. Panthers hooker Luke Priddis dived over after a good break by Luke Swain.
The conversion was successful and the the Panthers were in front for the first time tonight 6-2.
Only moments later veteran five-eight Preston Campbell kicked a 40/20 to give the Panthers a sniff at two tries in a minute.
However, as the story was on the night for both sides, handling let the Panthers down as they searched for a second try.
Moments later, Queensland halfback Johnathon Thurston chipped over the top before being taken out by young Panthers prop Matthew Cross. This gave the visitors another set of six on the Panthers' goal line.
Former Dragons junior Steve Southern who was recalled in to First Grade this week, got the Cowboys back into the game as he went over to score off a Mark Henry break to put the Cowboys back in front 8-6.
Just when the Cowboys thought they were back in the contest, young Panthers winger Michael Gordon set off down the western touchline. On the next tackle, Rhys Wesser bumped off three poor attempts at tackle and scored to put the Panthers back in front by 12-8.
Then came the turning point of the match with Ty Williams screaming down the touchline and about to dive for the corner, Joel Clinton ankle tapped him as he dived for the line a la Scotty Sattler.
With just two minutes left on the clock and time ticking away for the victors, Craig Trindall on debut for the Panthers slotted a field goal to put the margin out to five points and would make the task just a bit harder for the Cowboys.
A minute later, things got worse for the visitors, when New South Wales forward Luke O'Donnell was placed on report by referee Ben Cummins for a dangerous tackle.
The writing was on the wall in the dying stages as young winger Michael Gordon crossed in the corner to make the full time score 17-8 to the home side.
In what could be described as a sloppy match, the Panthers came away with the two points to continue the Cowboys' horror run. The Panthers now lie on the same points as the Cowboys and are in striking distance of even the fifth placed Sharks.
Penrith Panthers: 17
Tries: Luke Priddis, Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon
Goals: Preston Campbell 2/3
Field Goals: Craig Trindall
North Queensland Cowboys: 8
Tries: Steven Southern
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 2/2
By the Clock:
Welcome to CUA Stadium where steady rain has been falling all day but luckily enough, it has stopped in the late afternoon. Dark clouds are still pondering over the area though. Shane Rodney and Lee Hookey drop off the Panthers bench while for the Cowboys, Mark Henry has replaced Josh Hannay in the centres.
The Cowboys are out on to the park as Tony Puletua leads out the home side.
8 min: Both sides off to a tentative start in a must win game.
10 min: Referee Ben Cummins calls held and Rhys Wesser passes the ball so it is a scrum and the Cowboys go on the attack.
12 min: PENALTY GOAL North Queensland Cowboys
Luke Priddis gives away a penalty in the play the ball and from the eastern touchline Johnathon Thurston takes the 2 points.
13 min: The kickoff is ruled to be out on the full but on the replay it shows that the ball bounces millimetres inside the line.
19 min: Drop ball marring what should be an open game here.
22 min: The Socceroos would be proud of that! Thurston grubbers through the defence for Sing,who grubbers past Wesser for Southern but Campbell is there to clean up.
25 min: A good cross field kick on the last tackle by Trindall is knocked on by Rooney.
34 min: As the Cowboys go on the attack, rain begins to fall.
36 min: A kick from the scrumbase by the Cowboys goes dead ingoal as a foot race was beginning.
40 min: A bizarre end to the first half as no siren sounds but referee Ben Cummins blows halftime because the clock was down to 0.
Halftime - A tryless first half that has been entertaining in the fact that it has been very open because of the error rate. Hopefully the scoreboard attendant will have something to do in the second half! He didn't in the first half as he fell asleep and forgot to press the siren for halftime!
Second half underway...
45 min: The Cowboys on the attack and maybe we will see our first try.Mitchell Sargent down injured in back play.
46 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Luke Swain goes through the defence,comes to Bowen and gets an arm free and offloads to Priddis for the first try of the match.
Campbell converts the try.
48 min: A 40/20 from Campbell sends the Panthers on the attack.
52 min: A penalty gives the Cowboys another set of six as he chips over the top and Matthew Cross took him out.
56 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
Welcome back in to first grade Bluey Southern! A great pass by Thurston finds Mark Henry who goes straight through and finds Southern who scores to level up.
Thurston puts the Cowboys back in front.
60 min: Matt Sing goes straight through from a kick return and streaks down field before finding Thurston who is eventually tackled by Wesser inside the Panthers half.The Cowboys then get a penalty for the markers not being square.
65 min: NEWS The Panthers turn defence into attack as Gordon picks up a lost Cowboys ball and races down field.
66 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
On the counterattack,Queenslander Rhys Wesser bumps off 3 poor attempts at tackle and scores to put the Panthers back in front. Campbell adds the extras.
69 min: Checking a possible Cowboys try.
69 min: NO TRY - Matt Bowen turns defence in to attack off a kick but somehow Gordon comes from behind and takes him.On the next play they spread it wide and as Ty Williams dives for the corner,but Clinton comes from nowhere and ankle taps him in to touch.
71 min: O'Donnell goes over to score for the Cowboys but it is ruled no try correctly as the pass was forward.
78 min: Not long remains here and it looks like Penrith will get away with a victory here tonight.
79 min: ON REPORT - Luke O'Donnell is on report for a lifting tackle.
78 min: FIELD GOAL Penrith Panthers
On debut,Craig Trindall puts the margin out to 5 and makes it even harder for the Cowboys to come back.
80 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
Michael seals the victory for the Panthers tonight as he scores in the corner to confirm the victory tonight.
Campbell can't convert tonight
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Preston Campbell
2 - Joel Clinton
1 - Matthew Bowen