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Panthers stage stunning fightback SG Ball premiership

Penrith Panthers are the 2022 NSWRL SG Ball Cup Champions (Photo : Steve Montgomery)
Penrith Panthers are the 2022 NSWRL SG Ball Cup Champions (Photo : Steve Montgomery)

Panthers stage stunning fightback SG Ball premiership

Author : Stuart Honeysett NSWRL

Panthers stage stunning fightback to claim SG Ball Cup premiership

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Penrith Panthers have staged a stunning comeback to beat the Sydney Roosters 22-20 in the SG Ball Cup Grand Final at CommBank Stadium today.

The Panthers were 20-0 down at half-time after a strong first half by the Roosters but rallied on the back of a Player of the Match performance from halfback Isaiya Katoa.

Isaiya Katoa Penrith Panthers 2022 SGBall Cup Player of the Grand Final (Photo : Steve MOntgomery)

Isaiya Katoa Penrith Panthers 2022 SGBall Cup Player of the Grand Final (Photo : Steve MOntgomery)

The match went down to the wire with Panthers five-eighth Keagan Russell-Smith only sealing the win after landing a difficult conversion from the sideline.

I’ve always dreamt of that as a kid

“I’ve always dreamt of that as a kid; being in a Grand Final and kick a goal from the sideline,” Russell-Smith said.

“As much as the nerves were kicking in, I felt calm, just trusted in myself and knew the boys would back me.

“Once the ball sailed over it was a great feeling and something I’ll never forget.”

The Roosters boasted the best defence in the competition after conceding only 60 points all season while the Panthers attack had been on song in 2021 after being one of only two teams to score more than 200 points.

Tricolours winger Xavier Chatfield-Mooka

Tricolours winger Xavier Chatfield-Mooka had been strong all season, scoring at least one try in six matches.

He continued that good form when he was on the receiving end of a cut-out pass from halfback Cassius Tia to score the opening try of the match.

The Roosters backed up that play with an even more impressive long-range effort when five-eighth Ethan Strange put Robert Toia into a gap.

The Roosters centre then turned a ball back inside for fullback Benjamin Dufficy to score underneath the posts.

Dufficy then converted his own try and the Tricolours were well on top at 10-0.

The Roosters kept the pressure on when back-rower Michael Abdow managed to slip a nice offload for Tia.

The Roosters halfback then showed plenty of guile to step his way back inside the defence and over the line to extend the lead to 14-0.

Roosters skipper and lock Joshua Wong then made a strong run up the middle which replacement hooker Benaiah Ioelu capitalised on after burrowing his way over the line from dummy-half on the next play.

Ioelu then came up with another big play at the other end of the field after doing just enough to cause Panthers halfback Isaiya Katoa to lose control of the ball when he looked certain to score.

Josh Wong Sydney Roosters lock is the 2022 SG Ball Player of the year (Photo : Steve Montgomery)

Josh Wong Sydney Roosters lock is the 2022 SG Ball Player of the year (Photo : Steve Montgomery)

It wouldn’t be the only chance the Panthers would miss out on in the first half after winger Jesse McLean was chased down and tackled by Abdow.

Losing control of the ball in the process to let the Roosters off the hook and leave them with a 20-0 lead at half-time.

It was a different Penrith outfit which emerged after the break, with the mistakes that had dogged them in the first half being replaced by the type of play that had swept them into the Grand Final.

The Panthers started the long road back with a sweeping backline movement that ended with McLean barging his way over in the corner to reduce the margin to 20-4.

Katoa then held a pass up nicely for Panthers captain and lock Mason Teague to charge through a gap and over the top of Dufficy to score.

Five-eighth Keagan Russell-Smith converted and the Panthers were back in it at 20-10.

Panthers centre Angelis Hotare-Papalii helped reduce the margin to 20-16 when he stretched out to score and then showed great skill to suck in two defenders before popping a pass for McLean to grab his second try of the afternoon.

Russell-Smith stepped up to coolly slot the conversion from the sideline to complete a remarkable fightback.

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“It’s been a journey all year; the hard work and you live for those moments,” Russell-Smith said.

“It’s unreal, it’s hard to put into words because it’s just such a great feeling.

It’s just an unreal feeling to come away with that, especially being down. The boys were a bit rattled, but we knew if we stuck to what we could do we would come out on top.”

2013 SG Ball Cup Grand Final Action Photo’s – Panthers v Balmain Tigers

2014 SG Ball Cup Grand Final action Photo’s Roosters v Panthers

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News Corp will stream a game of the round from the NSWRL junior representative competitions.

You can go back into our archive to watch every game we have streamed so far this season. Click the links below to see what you missed.

ROUND 1

Tarsha Gale Cup: Raiders v Steelers

Harold Matts: Raiders v Sea Eagles 

SG Ball: Raiders v Sea Eagles 

ROUND 2

Tarsha Gale Cup: Bulldogs v Eels

Harold Matts: Bulldogs v Eels 

SG Ball Cup: Bulldogs v Eels 

ROUND 3 

Tarsha Gale Cup: Rabbitohs v Knights 

Harold Matts: Rabbitohs v Knights 

SG Ball Cup: Rabbitohs v Knights 

ROUND 4

Tarsha Gale Cup: Tigers v Roosters 

Harold Matts: Tigers v Knights 

SG Ball Cup: Tigers v Knights 

ROUND 5 

Tarsha Gale Cup: Rabbitohs v Raiders  

Harold Matts: Rabbitohs v Bears

SG Ball Cup: Rabbitohs v Bears 

ROUND 6 

Tarsha Gale Cup: Dragons v Steelers 

Harold Matts: Dragons v Steelers

SG Ball Cup: Dragons v Steelers 

ROUND 7 

Harold Matts – Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders

SG Ball – Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders 

ROUND 8 

Tarsha Gale Cup – Panthers v Bulldogs 

Harold Matts – Panthers v Bulldogs

SG Ball Cup – Panthers v Bulldogs 

ROUND 9 

Tarsha Gale Cup – Sydney Roosters v St George Dragons

Harold Matts – Sydney Roosters v St George Dragons

SG Ball Cup – Sydney Roosters v St George Dragons

ELIMINATION FINALS 

Tarsha Gale Cup – Wests Tigers v Illawarra Steelers 

Harold Matts – Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers 

SG Ball Cup – Penrith Panthers v Illawarra Steelers 

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