A resounding reserve grade win capped off 50th anniversary celebrations for the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers on Saturday.
Two matches were played at the club’s home ground of Colombo Park, Bemboka, and included a special jacket presentation to life members of the club as well as re-designed heritage jumpers.
Facing up against the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs, the Panthers shook off a wobbly start to claim a comfortable 30-6 win.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the visitors had flipped the result in the earlier league-tag contest with the Hot Doggies ladies triumphant 30-6 over the Pink Panthers.
In the headline reserve grade draw, Dylan Fletcher was the sole try-scorer for the Bulldogs after some good early exchanges.
Converting his own try, the fullback put the visitors ahead 6-4 before the hosts quickly bounced back.
The opening points had gone to CBU centre Nathan Moon, who found space deep in the corner, but the flags waived off with with kick drifting wide.
After the try from the Bulldogs, the Panthers snapped to attention and began working the ball well through the middle, but playing to the fringes close to the line.
Their second try went to Michael Motbey in a flying dive at the corner before he could be tackled into touch.
With a vocal home crowd in support, the Panthers doubled down and took control of the match with Motbey scoring again before the break and early in the second half to wrap up a hat-trick.
With momentum at their backs, the hosts dominated passages through the middle, while the Merimbula-Pambula quicks could not crack the hard front-line defense from their rivals.
Successive tries to fullback Troy Harvey and a late four-pointer to front man Ian Heffernan sealed the result for the Panthers, who celebrated 50 years of the United club long into Saturday night.
The Pink Panthers ladies outfit matched the Hot Doggies early with Nikki Perry breaking through for a good try under the posts.
Unfortunately the Hot Doggies started to take control of the game through their immense speed, with even well-weighted kicks quickly returned to good field position by the young sprinters.
A series of line-break runs on the edges ensured the Hot Doggies stole the show despite some good endeavour by the Pink Panthers throughout.
The Panthers will now head to the final round as premiership favourites when they meet the Bombala Blue Heelers this Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Pink Panthers’ season will come to an end this weekend no matter the result.