A Lachlan Coote field goal in golden point extra time has broken Penrith’s losing streak at Centrebet Stadium and perhaps reinvigorated the club’s season.
The Panthers looked like a giant burden had been lifted off them when Coote kicked the one-pointer four minutes into the extra period.
Penrith had been the better side throughout and held a 12-0 lead at half-time, but the Dragons scored two late tries to level the game and threaten to ruin the drought-breaking win for the home side.
It was just Penrith’s third win of the season but it’s importance should not be under-estimated. It was the side’s first victory at home since the thrilling 23-22 win over Parramatta in July last year, and helped to vindicate Ivan Cleary’s decision to axe centre Michael Jennings to reserve grade.
And it was poignant that it came on a chilly Monday night where only the most loyal of fans were at Centrebet Stadium for the contest.
Penrith were denied twice by the video referee before they finally crossed for points – Ryan Simpkins on the end of a Kevin Kingston pass to open up a 6-0 lead after Blake Austin’s conversion.
The Panthers scored again just four minutes later, when Kingston darted out of dummy half and managed to get the ball down despite the attention of the Dragons’ defence. Austin again converted to extend the lead to 12-0.
Penrith could have wrapped the game up in the 53rd minute but a touch-and-go video referee decision saw Etu Uaisele denied a try, which would have opened up a three-try lead.
St George-Illawarra were well off their game, and clearly missed the playmaking ability of Jamie Soward, but they always threatened to come home with a wet sail and with Penrith failing to put them away, Jake Marketo barged over with 15 minutes to go to reduce the margin to six.
With six minutes on the clock, the Dragons levelled the game with a Mitch Rein try – and seemingly had the momentum heading into the final minutes.
Blake Austin missed with a 79th minute field goal attempt, confirming golden point.
The Dragons had chances early in the extra time period, but it was a penalty and a brilliant kick for touch that put Penrith in great field position for Coote’s attempt.