BATHURST Panthers outscored the clock in a blistering second half of football to smash the Oberon Tigers 54-4 at Carrington Park on Saturday and venture into the Group 10 finals with plenty of momentum.
Panthers couldn’t capitalise on their raft of first half chances to take just a 10-4 lead into the sheds but there were no such dramas over the final 40 minutes.
Panthers were sporting Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs-inspired jerseys for the game to help raise funds for awareness of Friedreich’s Ataxia.
The disease claimed the life of Bulldogs fan Shane Lawson, older brother of Panthers centre Blake, in January.
Panthers raised $12,000 thanks to their post-match auctioning of the match jerseys.
Blake Lawson was part of a nine-man list of Panthers try scorers by the end of the dominant victory.
Panthers will get the opportunity to take on the Tigers again in next weekend’s qualifying final.
“That second half was really good. We got a roll on and we were pretty hard to handle,” Panthers coach Todd Barrow said.
“We probably tried to play a bit of footy too early today. They turned up in the middle but once we started winning the ruck it started to come off for us.
“It’s the best game I’ve seen Jack Siejka play this year. Our middle, Jarrod Seager and Jed Betts, the blokes who came off the bench, Wade Jade and Joey Bugg were all great. We had a few injuries last week and the boys who came in for us really aimed up.”
Neither team were doing a fantastic job of holding the ball in the opening 10 minutes but Panthers were able to punish one of the Tigers’ errors when Doug Hewitt scored the first try.
Jed Betts punished another Tigers mistake in the 20th minute, crossing for the hosts to push the score out to 10-0.
Jack Siejka’s red hot start to the match was almost rewarded with a late first half try but desperate Tigers defence kept him just short of a four pointer.
Tigers picked up a try against the run of play to Jackson Brien to get themselves within six at the break.
Panthers had been presented with plenty of opportunities to surge ahead during the opening half but only broke through twice.
That all changed when they came back onto the field.
When Joey Bugg muscled his way through the Oberon defence for the opening try of the second half, just four minutes into the new period, it led to a cavalcade of Panthers points.
Simon Osborne swooped over next to the uprights before Bradyn Cassidy scored deep inside the Oberon in-goal with a stunning catch on the right wing.
In a summary of the Tigers’ disappointing day at Bathurst they spilled the ball just metres out from their own try line, and Jye Barrow was on hand to make them pay.
Cassidy nabbed his second try of the day before the match was stopped to assess Tigers’ halfback Blake Miller, who had suffered an injury in defence.
There might have been a stop in play but it didn’t bring the Panthers’ momentum to a halt.
All Panthers supporters were hoping Lawson could snare a try in the match dedicated to the memory of his brother.
Their wish was granted in the 69th minute.
The converted try gave the hosts a 42-4 lead before Kade Barrow and Jake Betts helped push Panthers past the half century mark.