West Brisbane Panthers denied Easts Carina a chance of advancing up the ladder with a convincing 40-16 win in the Premier Grade division at the picturesque Kev McKell Oval.
The win now sees the Panthers in outright second spot on 16 points, two points behind Albany Creek Gaters. It is also their fourth straight win in what has been a memorable start for the club.
The Panthers were simply unstoppable if not near perfect, as they bullied and barged aside a lacklustre Carina Juniors who simply never got out of second gear.
You can always guarantee a big crowd at Kev McKell Oval and this game was no different. The atmosphere from the grandstand was at times deafening and it was a brilliant show of support for both clubs.
Panther Dominic Biondi was first to see his side on the scoreboard as his hulking frame helped him crash his way over beside the posts to score a great solo try.
Defensively, both sides put on a show you would expect from this division. Arana’s Shane Livingstone, Biondi and Ethan Marrinan were frightening.
The Panthers made easy yards up the middle and were causing headaches for the struggling Tigers and it took a piece of brilliance by five-eighth Robert Lane to throw a perfectly-timed pass to find centre Johnathon Collins would went into score the Panthers second.
Undaunted by the powerful Panthers pack, the Tigers hit back with a neat try of their own, as representative five-eighth Matt Craven put a kick through the defence, regathered and scored a brilliant solo try making the score 10-4.
With three minutes left on the clock in the first stanza, the visitors ensured they were on level terms with a gusty try by powerful winger Charles Sinipati who took three defenders with him over the line.
With 10 seconds left on the clock, Carina nearly went in again, but a massive defensive wall led by Livingstone, Biondi et al, denied the Tigers to take the lead on the hooter.
High hopes remained for the Tigers in the second half with their late resurgence and coach Lane Bird made some positional changes, in an effort to spark some new life into his side. Halfback Michael Gunthorpe, Matt Craven and Ryan Peacock were the pick of the crop, but sadly this is where it all went downhill for the visitors.
The Panthers defence seemed to up the tempo in the second half. The next try was brutal as Carina’s Gunthorpe was monstered in a massive gang tackle which saw the ball lost and was gladly picked up by winger Tim Tupou who raced away under the posts.
The Panthers Johnathon Dore was the architect in the Panthers next try; his superb bullet-like pass found a flying Jake Dornan who swept aside some flimsy Tigers defence and planted the ball down to make it 20-10.
Carina’s Matt Craven’s kicks in general play were spot on. His accuracy was breathing life into the Tigers, but fundamental errors and loose carries were proving frustrating for the coach. It wasn’t long before the home side registered another score when Tupou would go in for his second try of the afternoon courtesy of Dore who was in everything.
However, it was the hulking Panthers pack that was beating Carina. The containment of bookends Livingstone and Jayden Lund was nothing more than a task in itself and Lund would be next to place his name on the scoresheet with a powerhouse run from five metres out to see the scoreline edge out to 32-10 with the successful conversion.
The Panthers were on a roll and the next set from the kick off would see a well-worked team try and probably the try of the game. Started by exciting halfback Gore, his stepping run found the ball inside the Tigers 20 metre line and somehow with the ball managing to find its way back to the show stopping halfback, his grubber kick through ricocheted off the goal posts and found replacement Callum Stewart who took the honours of scoring right in front of the clubhouse end of the field.
Three minutes later, the man of the moment Gore (who has to be in contention for rep duties this season), magnificently kicked through the Carina defence which saw the Tigers fumble the ball on their tryline. It was scooped up by Panthers centre Tyrone Tofilau to see the score line blow out to 40-10.
But just as the punters were exiting the ground in what they thought was game over, enter Carinas Paul Renouf, who could have been mistaken for being a professional soccer player as he dribbled the ball ahead to regather and score with a minute remaining to add a well-deserved consolation try to the Tigers.
Final Score: West Brisbane Panthers 40 def Easts Carina 16.