Roosters hang on in thriller over Panthers
Desperate Sydney Roosters defence at the death has seen the visitors come from behind to beat the Penrith Panthers 14-12 in a thrilling encounter at Pepper Stadium.
Roosters duo Michael Gordon and Latrell Mitchell pulled off a stunning five minutes in the final stages of the game with a try-saver on Tyrone Peachey one metre out from the line on the last tackle as the Panthers looked to snatch victory.
The veteran fullback would come back to haunt his former side with two tries – including the match winner – to keep the Roosters' winning 3-0 start to the season in tact.
Both sides were shaky under the high ball with a number of floating and spiralling bombs going to ground, with a total of 25 errors in a game neither coach will be happy with.
Roosters centre Mitchell had a mixed start to the contest, kicking the ball out on the full twice in the opening half, before scoring a brilliant four-pointer just before the half-time break and setting up Gordon for the winning try with seven minutes to play, after keeping the ball alive down the left edge.
Two errors from Panthers outside backs Dean Whare and Waqa Blake put the home side under pressure early, but the Roosters were unable to convert it into points after back-rower Boyd Cordner lost the ball in reaching out for the line.
Back-to-back penalties the following set for the Panthers earned the home side first points after James Tamou was held down for too long in the ruck.
Panthers front-rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard was held up over the line in the 23rd minute, before Isaac Liu made an error on his first touch coming off the bench to hand the home side back possession.
Skipper Matt Moylan made sure the Roosters were made to pay, setting up a freakish try with a no look cut-out pass to the in-form Tyrone Peachey for the opening four pointer.
Nathan Cleary nailed the sideline conversion for an 8-0 lead midway through the half, but the same couldn’t be said about Mitchell, who again put the ball into the stands at the kick-restart.
Despite the six errors to open the half, the Tricolours began to turn the tables with two quick tries as halfback Mitchell Pearce began to make his mark on the game.
The former New South Wales halfback provided a slick cut-out pass for Michael Gordon to stroll over after a poor defensive read from forward Sitaleki Akauola, before centre Mitchell broke the Panthers on the left edge to find Pearce who attracted Moylan and then got the ball back to the 19-year-old for his fourth try of the Telstra Premiership season.
The visitors had a stroke of luck straight after the break when Shaun Kenny-Dowall looked to have spilled the ball close to the Roosters line, only for it to be ruled a one-on-one strip.
Anthony Griffin's men levelled the game five minutes later when Cordner was ruled offside from a kick, allowing Cleary the penalty goal from in front.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak went close on two occasions before some scrambling defence from the Bondi outfit prevented the Kiwi international from going over in his return from injury.
An error from Roosters forward Zane Tetevano in the play-the-ball and a high shot from Ryan Matterson on Te Maire Martin gifted another penalty goal for the Panthers to take back the lead at 12-10 with 22 minutes remaining.
A nervous Kenny-Dowall would spill his second high ball of the night and the Panthers looked to have scored the match winner, until the bunker found Peachey and Moylan to be a metre off side to keep the game alive with eight on the clock, until the Roosters delivered the final blow courtesy of the man who started his career at the foot of the mountains a decade ago.
Roosters 14 (Michael Gordon 2, Latrell Mitchell tries; Michael Gordon goal) def Panthers 12 (Tyrone Peachey try; Nathan Cleary 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Crowd: 11,044