Panthers win Under 18 title in close affair
The Penrith Panthers have claimed the National Under 18 title with a 36-28 win over the Townsville Blackhawks in a physical and entertaining game at Bishop Park this afternoon.
The Panthers took an early lead in the game with a try in the third minute to halfback and skipper Sean O’Sullivan and they were never headed, despite the Blackhawks getting close on the number of occasions.
After the Blackhawks locked the scores at 6-6 with a try to Brett Anderson and conversion from Oscar Carter within the opening 10 minutes – the rest of the half belonged to the visiting Panthers, who ran in three more first half tries to go out to a 24-6 lead.
However, just before halftime – Blackhawks were able to get one back with centre Kurt Wilshire making his way over to reduce the deficit to 24-10 at the break.
In a thrilling passage of play – the Blackhawks got to within two points 24-22 with back-to-back tries from Marshall Hudson and Julian Christian to start the second half.
Fullback Hudson’s try was an exciting result of some great ball movement from the team who were not afraid to throw the ball around – while Christian showed some good skill to evade defenders to go over following a Panthers error.
The Blackhawks thought they were over again with 15 minutes to go – but were ruled to have dropped the ball over the line.
With the ball back, the Panthers were on the attack again and Brian Too proved too strong out on the right and crossed for another Penrith try.
However, the Blackhawks were by no means out of the contest and earned themselves a line drop out with 13 minutes to go.
However, the Panthers were able to get the ball back for themselves and in a few plays; were able to get on the board again when Will Burns received a great pass before running and diving over under the posts.
Despite being under immense pressure, the Blackhawks withstood their next attacking raid and fought right to the end and it was Wilshire going over for his second. Carter's fourth conversion then finished the scoring plays for the day.
Played in warm Brisbane conditions, the game was a good showcase of the two best Under 18 teams in the country and despite it being a heated contest – was played in the right spirit.
PENRITH PANTHERS 36 (Jake Tago 2, Sean O’Sullivan, Mitchell Kenny, Brian Too, William Burns tries; Sean O’Sullivan 6 goals) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 28 (Kurt Wiltshire 2, Brett Anderson, Marshall Hudson, Julian Christian tries; Oscar Carter 3, Jacob Bourke 1 goals) at Bishop Park.
Man of Match: Treymaine Brown (Penrith)