Penrith Panthers have defied a game North Queensland outfit at a sodden Sportingbet Stadium. A late Matt Moylan field goal proving the difference.
A Matt Moylan field goal with 90 seconds remaining has handed Penrith a vital 23-22 win over North Queensland.
Moylan calmly slotted the match-winner on Monday night in the same manner he had done so earlier this season against Brisbane in round 18, after Jamie Soward had starred for the home side.
Soward scored two first half tries, had a hand in both of the Panthers’ other four pointers and dished off to Moylan for the match-winner.
The win moves the Panthers up to third spot on the NRL ladder, while the Cowboys slipped to seventh in windy and rainy conditions before a crowd of 7,276.
A late ankle injury to James Segeyaro could be a major worry for the Panthers who are without playmakers Peter Wallace and Tyrone Peachey for the rest of the season.
Johnathan Thurston and Robert Lui combined well in the halves for the visitors in the second half after they trailed by four points at the break.
A Lui try early in the second half put the Cowboys ahead before Josh Mansour regained the ascendancy for the Panthers courtesy of a great long ball from Soward.
A flying Antonio Winterstein tied things up at 22-all in the 68th minute.
Thurston missed the sideline conversion before Moylan struck true.
With a strong wind at their backs the visitors opened the scoring in just the third minute when Thurston put Kane Linnett over to lead 6-0 with the conversion.
But from their the home side dominated the majority of the first half with a favourable penalty count and Cowboys errors helping them.
So too did the Panthers aptitude, led by Soward.
Some clever passing on the Panthers right hand side with Dallin Watene-Zeleniak created the Panthers’ halfback’s first try in the 11th minute.
A Soward penalty goal in the 19th minute tied the scores up at 6-all before the former Dragon scored his second try in a great individual effort when he took on the Cowboys goal line defence in the 27th minute.
When Jamal Idris tapped back a Soward kick for Jeremy Latimore to score a converted try the Panthers led 16-6, six minutes out from the break.
A Glenn Hall try from a Gavin Cooper offload just before halftime pegged the Panthers lead back to 16-12.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary praised the composure of Moylan.
“He likes the big moment, it doesn’t phase him,” he said.
“The bigger the moment the calmer he is.
“It was tough at the end there, an arm wrestle and we came out at the end of it, that is really pleasing.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green said he couldn’t understand the sinbinning of Matthew Wright in the 49th minute after Soward had made a long break and was brought down by Michael Morgan.
It was a crucial ruling with Mansour crossing soon after.
“I’m a bit perplexed … the referee didn’t know what to call,” he said.
“What was the professional foul?
“I just think he didn’t know what was going on.”
Green, however, conceded his team had opportunities to claim the win.
“We just weren’t composed enough to maintain pressure,” he said.
“We fell into the trap of wanting to score on every play, trying to score a try there and then.
“We were in a position to win the game, we just weren’t good enough in the end.”