A last-minute field goal saw the West Brisbane Panthers claim a dramatic 21-20 win over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in Round 18 of the In Safe Hands Cup.
With just two rounds remaining in the 2019 regular season, this result means the Panthers have one hand on the minor premiership while the Seagulls are yet to secure their place in the finals with Redcliffe still looming.
Kyle Van Klaveren opened the scoring for the Panthers when a blind-side play off the scrum feed on the 20-metre line led to the fullback going over untouched.
Eight minutes later, Wynnum Manly were dragged down two metres short of the line, leading to the inevitable as Tristan Hope swooped into dummy half and added four points to the scoreboard.
Wynnum Manly’s attack was looking polished and threatened all game, however, the Panthers were finding ways to deny the Gulls.
A sweeping play from the right side found Edwin Ipape who opted for an in-goal grubber that finished with James Toole getting to the ball in time to claim the try.
The Seagulls were on a roll and John Te Reo found his way through a scrambled defensive line to score under the cross bar.
Te Reo was winding up for his post try ‘Gronk spike’, but was tackled by his jubilant team mates before he could deliver as Wynnum Manly moved to a 10-point lead at halftime.
Play resumed in the second half with semi-finals intensity. After 18 minutes of end-to-end entertainment, the Panthers finally crossed the chalk when Eddie Tautali offloaded to Campbell Mohr who scored in the left corner.
Mohr was involved again when the right winger made a bust through the middle and found Jordon Brown in support. He was going to fall short, but somehow got the ball away to Tautali to score an unconverted try.
Momentum was with the Panthers until Te Reo, sensing some space out wide, found Harlan Collins who drew the cover defence and put Jalen Tangiitii-Turner over to score a great winger’s try to take the lead out to 20-14 with 13 minutes remaining.
West Brisbane’s giant Stephen Buckley smashed over close enough to the posts for James Olds to convert locked it up at 20-20 with five minutes to go.
West Brisbane threw everything at Wynnum Manly who were holding on until 30 seconds from fulltime when Mackenzie Reid put the ugliest but sweetest field goal through the uprights to put the mud and blood army in front for the first time since Van Klaveren scored in the fifth minute.
The Panthers walked away with a one-point win in a wonderful and thrilling game of rugby league.
The loss means the Seagulls are just four points clear of the Redcliffe Dolphins with two rounds to go. Redcliffe kept their season alive with an emphatic 66-18 win over Souths Logan, who are now no chance of playing finals.
The last match of the round saw the Diehards secure their third consecutive win, 40-18 over Easts Tigers, which keeps them in the hunt for the minor premiership.
In Safe Hands Cup Round 18 results
Valleys Diehards 40 (Regan Baker 3, Luke Archer, Mathew Mc Couat, Zac Friend, San Collins tries Jack Miers 4, Ethan Richards 2 goals) def Easts Tigers 18 (Curtis Dansey-Smaller, Jaiyden Hunt, Jack Peoples tries Nathan Brown 3 goals)
Redcliffe Dolphins 66 (Harrison Smith 3, Corban Daniels 2, James Taylor 2, Sam Leach, Josh Rudolph, Ben King, Zev John tries Harrison Smith 3, Oscar Carter 8 goals) def Souths Logan Magpies 18 (Kalum Gulliver-Brown, Brandon Roberts, Jacob Alick tries Josh Bowyer goal, Hayden O ’Hara 2 goals)
West Brisbane Panthers 21 (Kyle Van Klaveren, Campbell Mohr, Eddie Tautali, Stephen Buckley tries James Olds 2 goals Mackenzie Reid field goal) def Wynnum Manly Seagulls 20 (James Toole, Jalen Tangiitii-Turner, John Te Reo, Tristan Hope tries Tristan Hope 2 goals)