Martin field goal sinks Broncos
After having their hearts broken by a debutant nine days ago, the Panthers have turned to their own boom rookie to seal a stunning 23-22 win over the Broncos at Pepper Stadium.
Te Maire Martin had a debut to remember, with 96 metres, two line breaks, a try, and the game-winning field goal in an 80-minute performance that will surely stick with him for the rest of his career.
The one-point win over Brisbane was made even sweeter given they had to overcome the late withdrawal of star recruit Trent Merrin.
An Anthony Milford masterclass had earlier looked to have given the Broncos their third straight win to start 2016, but last year's runners-up gave up the final 17 points of the game to head into next week's grand final replay on the end of a loss.
Those queuing for a pie and chips would have been glad they missed the first two minutes after Reagan Campbell-Gillard knocked on from the first hit-up. His error was duly punished by Milford, who sliced through to give the visitors an early 4-0 lead.
Penrith fans didn't have to wait long to see what all the hype surrounding Martin was about, as the rookie stepped straight past Milford to almost score.
A penalty to the Broncos put them back on the attack, and they had no troubles extending their lead. Milford was the main man again, attracting a sliding Bryce Cartwright in defence, before hitting Darius Boyd with a gem of an inside ball to extend the lead.
A deflated Pepper Stadium suddenly burst into life in the 21st minute thanks to former Sea Eagle Peta Hiku, who scored his third try in as many games for his new club thanks to an impromptu grubber from Tyrone Peachey.
The Penrith faithful were quickly silenced however, when Ben Hunt and Sam Thaiday combined to send the Broncos halfback over for an easy try under the posts.
A Will Smith error from the following set put the Panthers under more pressure, and it showed, with Milford dummying and stepping past some exhausted defenders to score next to the left upright.
Leilani Latu did his best to hold the explosive five-eighth up, and the interchange forward's efforts were rewarded soon after when he set up Bryce Cartwright for a crucial try to give them momentum leading into half-time.
The try came on the back of Penrith's first penalty of the match, with Jamie Soward knocking over his 11th conversion in a row to start 2016.
The Panthers were the first team to score in the second-half, but they had to wait 17 minutes to do so. A Soward grubber deflected off Josh McGuire, with Jeremy Latimore putting it on the toe and then beating Boyd to the ball to score his first of the season.
Suddenly within striking distance, the hosts butchered two golden chances to level the scores, with Tyrone Peachey, and then Martin coming up with the wrong pass with the line begging.
The Panthers suddenly had all the running, and with 10 minutes to go, the pressure told. Some Cartwright magic on the last tackle down the short-side ended up with Elijah Taylor who found Martin to score in the corner.
Having kicked 12 straight goals to start 2016, superstition came back to haunt Soward, who missed unlucky number 13 from out wide.
Locked at 22-all, the game took yet another twist when an Andrew McCullough high shot gave Soward the chance to kick a penalty goal from 30 metres out. Alas, the Penrith sharpshooter couldn't find his radar.
Both sides became increasingly desperate, and it became clear an error or penalty would decide the game. Right on cue, Hunt came up with a lost ball to give the Panthers great field position to set up for the one-pointer.
They say sport isn't scripted, but what transpired next suggested otherwise. With three minutes left, Soward set up for the shot, before passing it back to Martin. Showing poise beyond his years, the 20-year-old made no mistake, snapping the field goal from 20 metres out.
Brisbane had one late chance, but Jordan Kahu was over-eager from a Hunt kick, penalised for being offside.
The Broncos must now regroup leading into next week's grudge match with the Cowboys, while the Panthers will be full of confidence heading into their clash with the Dragons thanks to their wunderkind.
Penrith Panthers 23 (Peta Hiku, Bryce Cartwright, Jeremy Latimore, Te Maire Martin tries; Jamie Soward 3 goals; Te Maire Martin field goal) defeated Brisbane Broncos 22 (Anthony Milford 2, Darius Boyd, Ben Hunt tries; Corey Parker 2, Jordan Kahu 1 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: 22-12 Broncos. Penalties: 6-5 Broncos. Crowd: 12,086.