The West Brisbane Panthers are one step closer to their first In Safe Hands Cup minor premiership after outlasting the Souths Logan Magpies 30-28 at Davies Park.
The Panthers now sit three wins clear at the top of the ladder thanks to five consecutive wins that stretch back to Round 10.
It was the Magpies who were the team to defeat the Panthers that day and it looked like history was repeating when the Magpies took an eight-point lead late in the piece, but Wests showed their class and rallied for their 12th win of the season.
First points came the way of a try to Stephen Buckley after a short pass close to the line from dummy half Tommy Butterfield.
The try was set up the tackle before when Foisa Peni made a charging run to the line. Peni looked like a cyclist in spring with four Magpies swooping on him, limiting the numbers of defenders on the line in the ensuing play.
Ten minutes later, the Panthers were threatening again, but a 90-metre intercept try to Souths Logan winger Brendon Roberts meant it was the Magpies who were on the board.
The Magpies were over again 10 minutes later when Cameron Booth put on a fend and a flick pass to Hayden O’Hara, who went in for his team’s second.
Panthers half Khan Ahwang showed his own flick pass abilities after he busted through the defence and offloaded to Luke Pollock who crossed the line.
Souths Logan used the set play of a scrum close to the Panthers line to score their next try, this time going to fullback Josh Bowyer-Brown who put a nice goose step on Wests defender Butterfield to go over.
Wests scored just before the break after quick hands allowed the rampaging Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards to crash over, but Souths held a narrow 18-14 lead at halftime.
Ninety seconds after the break,Tuuta-Edwards was in again, busting the Magpies defence effortlessly to put the Panthers back in front.
The game continued to seesaw when Magpies halfback Lane Ferling found Booth on the last tackle. Booth put it in a deft grubber for Vesi Sa’u to pounce on and retake the lead for Souths.
The Magpies extended their lead to eight points with 20 minutes remaining when O’Hara burst through the line and scooted before linking with Jayde Williams.
Wests however showed their championship qualities in the final 20 by crossing twice to claim victory.
First, right winger James Olds found some space out wide after a pass from Kyle Van Klaveren on the last tackle. Olds dashed 50-metres to bring Wests back within four points with 10 minutes to go.
A kick from Butterfield found the turf and was toed ahead by Eddie Tautali who won the race to the in-goal and with the conversion, West Brisbane sealed the two-point win.
With five games remaining, the Panthers need three more wins to guarantee the minor premiership, while the Magpies are still mathematically in finals contention - but would need to win all of their remaining games and hope many other results go their way.
Other Round 15 results saw Redcliffe move to within four points of the top four with a 40-16 win over the second-placed Diehards, while the defending champions the Seagulls continued their rough patch with a 36-24 defeat at the hands of the Tigers.
In Safe Hands Cup Round 15 results
Easts Tigers 36 (Zakaria Taibi 2, Curtis Dansey-Smaller, Justin Fai, Tevita Wolske, Jaiyden Hunt, Lachlan Barr tries Brandon Downey goal, Ngatuere-Wroe 3 goals) def Wynnum Manly Seagulls 24 (Shannon Gardiner, Mitch McMillian, Elliot Vincent, Matt Milson, John Te Reo tries Shannon Gardiner 2 goals)
Redcliffe Dolphins 40 (Kyle Foxwell 2, Will Partridge, Corban Daniels, Sam Leach, Zev John, Patrick O’Callaghan tries Oscar Carter 6 goals) def Valleys Diehards 16 (Henry Penn, Jonty Hansen, Patrick Akaoula tries Jack Miers 2 goals)
West Brisbane Panthers 30 (Keelyn Tuuta 2, Eddie Tautali, Stephen Buckley, James Olds, Luke Pollock tries; James Olds goal, Khan Awang 2 goals) def Souths Logan Magpies 28 (Josh Bowyer-Bowen, Vesi Sa’u, Brendon Roberts, Haden O’Hara, Jayde Williams tries Hayden O’Hara 4 goals)
|1||West Brisbane Panthers||80||39|
|4||Wynnum Manly Seagulls||-18||29|
|6||Souths Logan Magpies||-149||23|