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Brett Morris gave the 13,107 crowd something to cheer about early as he danced over in the eastern corner off a surging run from fullback, Adam Quinlan. The Dragons led 4-0 after 7 minutes with Gareth Widdop's only conversion missed.
Dan Hunt could have a trip to the NRL Judiciary ahead as he was placed on report in the 14th minute for a high tackle on Penrith's David Simmons. Simmons later left the field with concussion from another incident with Joel Thompson.
The ensuing penalty saw the Panthers through James Segayaro post their first try as he stretched out for the white line. Penrith captured the lead, 6-4 after 16 minutes.
Jamie Soward's 40 metre a field goal attempt on the half time siren dropped short of the posts. The Panthers took their 6-4 lead into the break after 40 minutes.
Adam Docker put the Panthers on the front foot in the second half as his powerful run saw him cross almost untouched as Matt Moylan provided the hole for his second rower. Penrith jumped to 12-4 after 43 minutes.
For the majority of the match, the Dragons goal line defence held together, however, stopping Jamal Idris is another story. The big framed centre sailed into a yawning gap to close out the game for the visitors, 16-4.
Matt Moylan looked to ice the cake with a field goal in the final minutes, but his shot just wide of the uprights.
The Dragons will have to go back to the drawing board with their attacking options letting them down against quality opposition as their chances of capturing a top 8 spot slip away.
Next week the hoodoo could continue for the Dragons as they trek to Canberra to face the Raiders. Meanwhile for the Panthers its back to Penrith as they host the 4th placed North Queensland Cowboys on Monday night.
LATE MAIL: Dragons - Dan Hunt will make his 150th first-grade appearance after being named in the starting forward-pack, he replaces Mike Cooper who moves to the bench
Full time in Under 20s action in Holden Cup, Penrith Panthers held off the Dragons, 26-18.
Welcome to LeagueUnlimited.com's LIVE coverage from a beautiful sunny WIN Stadium in Wollongong as the Dragons host the Panthers in a bid for a top 8 berth heading into September. The Dragons are in a group of teams who are sitting outside of the top 8 who need a string of wins to play finals football.
1: We are UNDERWAY at WIN Stadium as the Panthers kick off to give the Dragons first use of the ball.
1: Gareth Widdop completes the first set for the Dragons, his kick finds the sideline deep in the Panthers half. Penrith with the scrum feed 20 metres off their own try line.
3: First penalty to the Panthers this afternoon, Mitch Rein holding down too long in the ruck. Penrith advance to half way
5: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Sika Manu makes an unforced error.
Sika Manu has the ball helped out in the ruck, but ruled as a knock on. Lucky call for the Dragons as they pack a scrum 10 metres out from their own line
6: Penalty to the Dragons, held down in the ruck. Dragons up to half way.
10: Matt Moylan take the last tackle kick under pressure deep in his own half, he spreads side to give the Panthers their start on the 20 metre line.
12: The game has settled in the last few minutes, end to end football after the first try by the Dragons.
13: Penalty goes to the Dragons, Adam Docker concedes the penalty for not clearing the ruck after the held call. Widdop finds the sideline and Dugan marches the Dragons up to half way
18: Matt Moylan finishes off a multi-passed play with a poor kick which rolls dead. It when through about 5 sets of hands and nothing comes of it as the Dragons come up with a 20m tap.
20: FORWARD PASS is called before Nightingale took the intercept. Upset that didn't play on. It's back for a scrum.
22: Nothing comes of the Panthers get from the scrum, Jamal went close but the Dragons defence holds together. They come up with possession a metre off their own try line.
24: Gareth Widdop cleans up in goal off the kick from Soward and it's a line drop out for the Dragons, repeat set for the Panthers.
25: Massive line drop out from the Dragons, goes 60 metres into the wind and bounces back a further metres as Matt Moylan juggled the ball.
26: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Trent Merrin makes an unforced error.
Trent Merrin ruled to have knocked down an inside offload from Issah Yeo as he popped into a hole off a Jamie Soward line run. Scrum for the Panthers 10 metres out.
27: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Jamal Idris makes an unforced error.
Jamal Idris unable to take the bullet pass across the field from Jamie Soward, the overlap was awaiting their attack but Jamal can't handle it for a tip on to Josh Mansour. Scrum for the Dragons.
28: Benji Marshall rockets a bouncing kick over the western sideline. Scrum for the Panthers packs down 10 metres off their own line.
32: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Lewis Brown makes an unforced error.
Lewis Brown ruled to have played at the ball as the Dragons pass when sideways. Scrum packs for the Dragons 10 metres out from the line, it's their first set inside the red zone.
33: Another penalty to the Dragons, Tim Grant using the forearm in the ruck again. Dragons 10 metres out
33: ZERO TACKLE for the Dragons as their pass is knocked down. Josh Dugan cleans up and has possession 20 metres out from the try line
34: Time off here with Josh Dugan down after a heavy tackle. Trainer looking at his head.
35: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Brett Morris makes an unforced error.
Brett Morris unable to take the cut out pass from Adam Quinlan and it's dropped as they attack the eastern corner again. Scrum for the Panthers 10 metres out off their own line.
35: Jamie Soward aims the kick on the end of the set down to the corner. Scrum packs for the Dragons 10 metres off their own try line.
37: Mitch Rein sends a kick long downfield to give the Panthers their set start inside their own 10 metre zone.
37: David Simmons goes for a gallop to advance the play up to the half way line, good running from the winger to bring up the 4th tackle.
38: Kicking is the name of the game, scrum packs for the Dragons 10 metres out from their own line. Soward controlling the game well.
39: Time off here, Thompson's shoulder has collected Simmons, accidentally. Simmons make have to come off.
39: David Simmons is coming off the field with possible concussion. Yeo comes back on for the Panthers.
40: UNSUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Field goal attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful.
Jamie Soward snaps a shot at one point from 40 metres out as the siren sounds for half time, but it's too low of the posts. Score remains as they head into the sheds
40: HALF TIME at WIN Stadium in Wollongong sees the Penrith Panthers take a 2 point lead into the sheds over the Dragons, 6-4.
41: Second half is UNDERWAY as the Dragons kick off and trail the Panthers 6-4
41: Penalty comes up first for the Panthers, slow release in the ruck. Matt Moylan takes the quick tap and advances a further 10 metres before being caught.
41: Kick from the Soward is caught in goal by Trent Merrin and is he trapped. Line drop out for the Dragons.
47: Mitch Rein goes for a dart between the lazy markers and gains 15 metres on the run. It's followed up in the next play by a penalty, strip the call. Dragons attack from a touch finder off the boot of Gareth Widdop.
48: Back to back penalties for the Dragons, markers too slow to release in the ruck. Dragons put it over the sideline and regroup at the 10 metres line.
50: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Dean Whare makes an unforced error.
Dean Whare jumps out of the line looking for an intercept as Gareth Widdop fired a pass to Gerard Beale. Scrum for the Dragons, it's their third straight set inside the Panthers 20 metre zone.
50: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Jamie Soward makes an unforced error.
Jamie Soward knocks down the floating pass this time, intercept almost taken as he took the pass from Benji Marshall. Scrum again for the Dragons, 10 metres out
51: Benji Marshall rockets a pass into the grandstand and the pressure is off the Panthers after four straight sets.
54: Jamie Soward chips over the defence but it's easily taken by Quinlan at the mouth of the posts. Dragons with possession just off their own line.
55: Too long in the ruck, sees a penalty given. Jason Nightingale takes a quick tap but the referees call him up for a blood bin. Dragons resume play with their 2nd tackle of the set 20 metres short of half way
57: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Jamal Idris makes an unforced error.
Jamal Idris gets tangled up in a tackle of Jason Nightingale as he tried to offload. Dragons with a scrum feed 30 metres out from the Panthers try line.
60: Beautiful defence from Penrith! Nightingale is forced out over the sideline as he took a shifting pass from Benji Marshall as he skipped across field. Scrum in the Panthers.
60: Time off here as we have a push in the scrum before the ball was fed. The forwards getting friendly with pushing in an all in.
60: Penalty Penrith! Differential for pushing before the ball was in the scrum. Old school stuff!
65: Benji push a spilling kick through the line but it's taken well by Mansour. Marshall unable to follow through and collect possession. Panthers with possession 30 metres off their own try line.
65: ZERO TACKLE for the Dragons... but Quinlan kicks... brain explosion. Panthers with possession in their own half.
65: James Segeyaro aims for the sideline on last tackle and gives up possession through a scrum feed 20 metres short of the half way line.
68: Penalty to the Dragons, offside is the call. Gareth Widdop finds the half way line from deep in his own half.
70: Forward pass catches the Dragons out and it's a scrum for Penrith 10 metres out
74: Short kick off from the Dragons… Morris has jumped from the field of play and knocked it out. Panthers scrum 10 metres short of half way
77: Line drop out for the Panthers, Dragons almost getting points through Gerard Beale.
78: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Benji Marshall makes an unforced error.
Benji Marshall skipping around the back knocks on as Beale tries to get back infield. Change over on the last tackle.
80: FULL TIME at WIN Stadium as seen Jamie Soward rack up his 100th NRL victory against his former club, Penrith victors, 16-4