In the penultimate game of the season the Panthers had an early start away at St Pats, a ground on which we have previously not done too well, although the last game between these two teams was a tight affair with honours shared.
Once again everybody was raring to go however we had a no show from the ref. With both sides in agreement I took up the whistle.
Prior to the match proceeding both sides joined in a minutes applause in memory of Debbie Wareing a member of the Pats club. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.
Since the Grand Final had been cancelled it's fair to say the boys had lost a bit of momentum and training leading up to this game had been flat and this was carried forward into the opening stanza. Panthers started well but missed that spark and intensity they have been playing with of late. This saw Pats opening the scoring with a good passing movement out to the left and finished well, conversion missed 4-0 Pats.
This seemed to rally the Panthers and they camped out in the Pats 20, with the last play of the ball stand in hooker Alfie Bowers
cleverly kicked the ball through from the play the ball and despite the attempts of the Pats marker beat him to an in goal grounding and with Josh successfully converting Panthers took the lead.
The next spell saw some great exchanges by both packs and I have to say 11 mins in I was pleased to surrender the whistle to the late arriving ref.
The game turned around half time with no further scores and with a change in the centres Chris Kellett
delivered a trade mark barnstorming run to cross and see the Panthers edge ahead 4-10.
Both sides then began to play expansive rugby and both defenses held strong. Some superb shots were going in by both teams but a true game changer came from man of the match Matt Ashcroft whose hit resulted in a turnover, with the set being played out Josh kicked cross field on the last and Ben Carelton showed his class to catch and crash over. Another conversion and Panthers looked home and dry at 4-16
However Pats have a never say die attitude and when we allowed our trade mark last PTB scoot to go over at 8-16 it was game on however Pats had left it too late despite them scoring the try of the match by their classy stand off who ran the touch superb avoiding tackles with great footwork and provided a respectable scoreline.
When I consider players running out today at hooker, stand off and scrum half were doing so for the first time this season it shows the strength and versatility in this ever improving squad of players
We now need to put the disappointment of the cancelled final to bed and start our prep throughout the summer months in readiness for September 9th. The delay may well work in our favour as we now have Daniel and Jake registered and both will prove something of a surprise package come finals day as we now start to integrate them into the team. I can see us having some fun with these two additions!!!!!!!!!!
No training Tuesday, we may be playing Sunday so watch this space for details of LMR away.
Well done on a great opening start to the season, one loss is a great performance with some impressive scalps along the way, Dave and I are proud of you all and when we have the likes of a certain B Goulding previously complimenting us on our style of play and great commentary today from Wigan Warriors scouts who watched the game we know we are on the right path, let's just hope the Warriors can keep their poaching pans away!