A Matt Burton field goal more than a year in the making ensured Penrith a thrilling 13-12 win over Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium tonight.
Burton famously missed four field goals in a golden point match against Newcastle in May last year.
History looked set to repeat itself when his first attempt to break a 12-all deadlock hit the post, but he hit his second attempt perfectly to put the Panthers in front with a minute to go.
Penrith still had to survive a late scare – Mitchell Moses missing a penalty shot as the siren sounded that would have given Parramatta the win.
It was far from a polished performance from Penrith who lacked direction without Nathan Cleary. The side’s attack looked clunky with Tyrone May moving into the halfback role, despite initially being named in the centres.
A gritty opening quarter was finally broken open in the 22nd minute when Maika Sivo went over to give Parramatta a 4-0 lead.
May scored for Penrith in the lead-up to half-time, giving the Panthers a two-point advantage at the break.
Whatever Eels coach Brad Arthur said at half-time worked – the Eels came out firing and Isaiah Papali’i crashed over to put the visitors in front after just a few minutes of the second half.
The Panthers re-gained the lead when Api Koroisau spotted a gap and scored a beautiful try in the 50th minute, but that’s when the try-scoring stopped.
The Eels levelled the game at 12-all with a penalty goal in the 56th minute. The final 24 minutes was a see-sawing affair with both sides having their chances to grab the win.
The match was played in front of no fans due to the COVID-19 lockdown, making it the smallest attendance for an NRL game in the history of Panthers Stadium.
Importantly, the win opens up a four point gap between second placed Penrith and third placed Parramatta.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said post-match he was upset at the final penalty that gave Moses a chance to win the game.
“I was angry,” Cleary said.
“I just think it’s another example of our game encouraging playing for penalties. That’s how I saw it.”
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.