Bathurst Panthers prowl over Mudgee Dragons

COP THAT: Bathurst Panthers’ Trent Rose tackles Mudgee Dragons’ Demetrius Ainuu at Carrington Park yesterday. The Panthers ended Mudgee’s 10 game winning streak. PHOTO: WESTERN ADVOCATE 060714/070614zpan23 RUGBY LEAGUE
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Bathurst Panthers breathed life into their ailing Group 10 premier league season yesterday and at the same time brought Mudgee’s 10-match undefeated streak to an end at Carrington Park with a 34-12 upset.

It wasn’t just the victory that was a head-turner either, but the manner in which it was achieved.

Prior to the game Panthers lost their best player in captain Brent Seager as well as his brother Blake through injury, but in their absence the entire squad stood up against a fearsome opposition.

At the same time, Mudgee were a step below their best form and it was inevitable that sooner or later their brilliant run would come to an end, something captain Jared Robinson acknowledged afterwards.

“This day was going to come at some point, it is pretty hard to go through a whole season undefeated,” he said.

“In a way it lifts a lot of the pressure, we can go back now and start again, get some wins under the belt and build for the semi-finals.

“We certainly have to give credit to Panthers, they just out-enthused us right from the first set of six, we didn’t play that badly and the effort was there but it just wasn’t our day today.”

Robinson was on the money.

In the opening set of six Panthers swarmed all over Mudgee’s forward pack and paid particularly close attention to gamebreaking player-coach Jack Afamasaga.

Luke Carpenter gave a sign of what was to follow when a show-and-go from dummy-half saw him run 50 metres to score Panthers’ first after five minutes.

Carpenter would become the most influential player on the field as the game unfolded.

At the 25-minute mark Mudgee found space and elected to run the ball on the last play, leading to a try to centre Corin Smith, and Tom Lewsley’s conversion gave Mudgee a 6-4 lead, the only time they would be in front all day.

From the next set of six, Mudgee coughed up possession and Matt Rose made them pay as he strolled through some flimsy defence, and five minutes from half-time a defining moment arrived for brothers Jake and Jed Betts.

With seemingly nothing happening, Jake grubbered from dummy-half close to the Mudgee line, and his brother swooped to ground the ball just inside the dead-ball line.

Blake Lawson’s conversion gave them a 16-6 lead, and they almost added to it next set when Carpenter again made a big break only for his kick for Cody Robbins to take a bad bounce.

Right on half-time, Afamasaga put Todd Munn into space and he looked certain to score but Mitch Davis had other ideas, making a superb one-on-one tackle and forcing a mistake as his team went to the sheds with a 10-point lead.

Straight after the resumption Jed Betts was put into space down Mudgee’s left edge and soon after Davis crossed for his team’s fourth.

With alarm bells ringing Mudgee tried to mount a challenge but were denied by a forward pass to winger James O’Connell near the line, and their grave looked to be deepening when Blake Dean scored Panthers’ fifth in the next set.

Smith looked the Dragons’ best chance to score and he did so through a solo effort in traffic in the middle of the field but when Rose found touch from the kick-off and Robbins crossed for his first the result was all but assured.

Rose spent 10 minutes in the bin after a strange chain of events that saw him spoken to by the referee, before a Mudgee pass hit him as he was running back onside.

It didn’t make much difference though as Panthers withstood every challenge thrown at them and capped it off with Robbins scoring on full-time.

“I’m over the moon, we’ve been building towards this but we have always lost these games where we played well in patches and took it to the good sides,” a delighted Rose said.

“That doesn’t get us in the five but it does put us in with a chance, and to put on a performance like that against such a good side is awesome. Every single player did their job today, especially the younger guys.”

Carpenter was a clear man of the match, while Trent Rose had arguably his best game since rejoining Panthers last year, and Matt Rose, Jake Betts and Osea Sadrau were all impressive.

For Mudgee Smith was sensational and dangerous every time he touched the ball while Afamasaga and half Tim Condon did their best to keep their team in the game.

BATHURST PANTHERS 34 (Cody Robbins 2, Mitch Davis, Matt Rose, Luke Carpenter, Jed Betts, Blake Dean tries; Blake Lawson 3 goals) defeated MUDGEE DRAGONS 12 (Corin Smith 2 tries; Tom Lewsley goal, Josh Crowe goal)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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