Match Summary The Penrith Panthers have defeated the Cronulla Sharks 21-20 in golden point at Toyota Stadium this evening.
All signs pointed to a Sharks victory and when Lance Thompson crossed in the first half, the fairytale for the retiring stalwart looked set.
Even late in the game the Sharks looked in control but the Panthers never gave up and running into a stiff breeze managed to stage a remarkable comeback that was capped off by a superb touchline conversion by youngster Jarrod Sammut.
In extra time it was the Sharks who had first use of the football and Brett Kimmorley just missed with a long range attempt that confused many who thought it had actually had gone over.
The Panthers with their first set had their field goal attempt charged down by Brett Seymour but the Panthers regathered, played up the middle and then Sammut made no mistake with his next shot at field goal and ended Lance Thompsons career on a sour note.
Kudos to Jarrod Sammut, who showed maturity beyond his years to kick the Panthers home when it mattered most.
Congratulations must also go to Lance Thompson, who has had an excellent career with both the Dragons and the Sharks and will retire with his standing in the game as one of the good guys assured. Well done Lance.
Cronulla Sharks 20 Tries: Greg Bird (2), Lance Thompson, Fraser Anderson Goals: Luke Covell (2/4) Penrith Panthers 21 Tries: Nathan Smith, Michael Jennings, Michael Gordon, Luke Rooney Field Goals: Jarrod Sammut (1/1) Goals: Jarrod Sammut (2/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Jarrod Sammut (Panthers) 2 Points: Greg Bird (Sharks) 1 Point: Fraser Anderson (Sharks)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: We are underway at Toyota Stadium.
5 min: No score yet but the Panthers have received their first penalty and are now on the attack.
6 min: Lance Thompson knocks on a Penrith kick two metres out from his own line and the Panthers have another set of six on the Sharks line.
11 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks The Sharks hit straight back with Greg Bird cleaning up a great grubber kick to square the ledger for the Sharks. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. 6 all
14 min: Cronulla starting to play some entertaining footy now with some quality passing and kicking. Penrith look to be tiring a little at the moment.
16 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Retiring hero Lance Thompson swoops on a dropped kick by Luke Rooney to score in his swansong match. Well done Lance. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 10-6
21 min: The Sharks get six aain and butcher a try with Fraser Anderson throwing the ball away on the first tackle. Penrith arenn't much better though, knocking on in their own red zone.
22 min: As the rain starts to come down, Luke Covell is pushed into touch as he came close to scoring for the Sharks. Good defence from Penrith.
26 min: Penrith clean up a good Sharks kick in their own in goal so the Sharks will get a repeat set of six and can really apply the pressure to the Panthers.
28 min: Jarrod Sammut drops and intercept but he also saved the Panthers from conceding a try.
30 min: Penrith withstand another Sharks raid with Luke Roony forced back in goal and the Panthers are forced to give the Sharks the ball back via another line drop out.
33 min: With the rain coming down, both teams are starting to make mistakes with the ball in hand.
35 min: Terrible kick by Rhys Wesser. Idea was good, execution very poor. Sharks off the hook.
39 min: The Sharks withstand a late Panthers raid with relative ease and now the Panthers give away a penalty to release all the presure on the Sharks in the final minute before half time.
41 min: We are underway in the second half with the Sharks kicking off to the Panthers.
44 min: Possible try to the Sharks...
44 min: No try. Brett Seymour knocked on when trying to ground the ball off his own kick.
47 min: Greg Bird is having an excellent game and is everywhere at the moment. He is the difference between the two sides.
47 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Fraser Anderson amde a break and simply ran through the Panthers defence to score an excellent individual try for the Sharks. Long way back for the Panthers now. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 14-6
52 min: TRY Penrith Panthers From a nothing play the Panthers score a great try in the corner to Michael Jennings. The Panthers are back in the game now. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 14-10
58 min: Great kick and chase from the Sharks to catch Rhys Wesser in goal and get another set of six.
59 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Greg Bird gets his second try of the night of a great set play and the Panthers simply had no answer for his strength close to the line. Very hard to see the Panthers coming back in this one. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 20-10
63 min: TRY Penrith Panthers The Panthers have hit back again after a great kick return from Rhys Wesser. Quick play from the Panthers enabled Michael Gordon to score out wide and get the Panthers back into the game. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 20-14
70 min: As we enter the final ten minutes there is still only a converted try between the two sides so a bit of magic fom the Panthers could see them force the match into golden point but they are looking a little tired at the moment so it will take a big effort to get out of this one.
75 min: The Panthers get a repeate set of six and it's now the Sharks who are looking tired with five minutes to play.
76 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Luke Rooney scores in the corner for the Panthers and the Sharks are looking very tired at the moment. The outcome will hinge on the conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut successful. 20 all
80 min: Frank Pritchard knocks on just before full time and now we head off to golden point.
82 min: Brett Kimmorley take a long range shot at field goal but just misses. Big let off for the Panthers.