A James Maloney field goal in golden point extra time has secured Penrith a fifth straight victory as their unlikely Finals charge continues.
The Panthers won 19-18, escaping from Mount Smart Stadium with a victory despite several controversial refereeing decisions that threatened to cost Ivan Cleary’s side victory.
NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley will tomorrow be forced to explain how The Bunker awarded David Fusitu’a a 42nd minute try despite replays later showing the winger had gone into touch.
The shocking decision gave the Warriors a potential match-winning 16-6 lead, but Penrith showed tremendous spirit to bounce back from the disappointment.
The Panthers were already reeling after two controversial sin-bin decisions saw the side at one point reduced to 11 men.
Brent Naden scored two second half tries including an incredible 90 metre run in what was a stand-out performance for the Panthers.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said he was happy to walk away with the points.
“We haven’t travelled well throughout the season. It was just a brave win,” he said.
Of the controversial Jarome Luai sin-binning in the second half, Cleary said: “I felt like the pocket referee was really strong in his opinion which meant that the head referee head to go with it…. it was a big call.”
Cleary said the awarding of David Fusitu’a’s try was “a clear mistake”.
The win moves Penrith into 11th position on the NRL ladder – just two points out of the top eight.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.