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22 June, 2022

Panthers take on Bears at McGrane

Christie and Hood Castlereagh League - June 21, 2022

By Supplied

In front of a healthy crowd at McGrane Oval on Saturday, June 18, the Panthers and the Coonamble Bears turned on a highly entertaining game to complete round eight of the Christie and Hood Castlereagh League.

 Played under perfect weather conditions, the Panthers raced to a 10-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes after Mitch Bamblett scored in the corner. This was followed soon after by captain-coach, Jamie Towney, who forced his way over next to the sticks from close range to give Brandon Hammond an easy conversion attempt.

The shell-shocked Bears finally found some rhythm and after a ball was spilt by the Panthers. Coonamble swooped on the loose ball, and it was swung wide to Mark Jones who was too fast for the Panther defence and he touched down in canteen corner. Jake Fernando converted from the sideline and five minutes later the Bears took the lead when Fernando crossed under the posts and converted his own try to make it 12-10 to the ‘grizzleys’.

The Panthers had a shot at the try line with three minutes remaining in the first half and Luke Ritchie latched onto an inside pass to score and give the Panthers the lead once again as the hooter sounded for the break. Whatever was said in the Coonamble shed at half-time certainly had the desired effect, as they blew the Panthers off the park in the opening minutes.

Fernando scored and converted followed soon after by Jack Kelly, who pounced on a Panther mistake to touch down in the corner. Fernando was having a great day with the boot and another sideline conversion had the Bears up 24- 14 midway through the second stanza. Curtis Carr was injected into the Panther attack with immediate results when he scored a brilliant try next to the posts.

DJ Smith converted and closed the gap to just four points, trailing the Bears 24-20. With 17 minutes left on the clock, DJ Smith found the tryline for the Panthers and his conversion had the Panthers back in front 26-24.

The Bears wouldn’t go away and with ten minutes to go they pounced on another Panther mistake and Fernando scored his third try for the day to wrest the lead away from the Panthers once again to have the Bears back in front 28-26. With the clock rapidly approaching the 80-minute mark, the Panther fans were hoping for a miracle and DJ Smith delivered with a try next to the posts. He converted and the Panthers were back in front for the fourth time in the match.

As the minutes ticked down, the Bears threw everything they had at the Panthers. A late rally had the Panthers defending their own line for the final minutes.

Finally, the hooter sounded, and the Panthers were victorious 32-28 after a highly entertaining match for all the fans. Although both sides made plenty of mistakes, they both played some scintillating football and the re-match at Bear park later in the season will be one not to miss.

Anthony Harris and Ashley Hazelton were powerful for the Panthers up front, whilse DJ Smith had a great day at five/eighth, following the big men around scoring two tries and three conversions.

 League tag

A 10-minute blitz in the first half by the Coonamble Bearettes set up a victory for them when they blew the Pinkies away in the opening minutes of their clash at McGrane.

The Lady Bears cruised to a 26-0 lead early in the half to set up their victory, but just before the half-time bell, Mab Fuller crossed for the Pinkies and Shian Chatfield converted to give the Pinkies some respectability at the break. Harsh words from co-coach’s Louie and Wood at the half-time break also had the desired effect.

The Pinkies launched a great second half rally with Mab Fuller touching down for her second try, while Shian Chatfield scored and converted both tries to have the Pinkies trailing 26- 18 as the minutes ticked down.

The Pinkies were awarded a penalty from close range and Chatfield closed the gap to six points with only a few minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately, the Pinkies ran out of time and the Bear girls took the three valuable competition points home. Next Saturday both the Pinkies and the Panthers hit the road to Baradine as we reach the halfway point in the competition.

Both teams can expect a rowdy reception as the Magpies are celebrating their 100th year of rugby league on the day. The Lady Magpies sit at the top of the comp at this point, while the Pinkies will need to turn around their last couple of outings to stay in touch with the bunch. The first grade encounter will be a tough on as always.

The Magpies always seem to raise up a couple of notches when they play the Panthers, especially on their home track. They will even be more fired up this Saturday with plenty of old boys back in town for the celebrations. Hopefully there will be plenty of Panther supporters make the journey to Magpie land to drown out the vocal home crowd on the day.

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