The undefeated start to the 2018 Tarsha Gale season has continued for Daniel Lacey’s Illawarra Steelers, who edged out the Penrith Panthers 46-32 on Saturday.
After a slow start to the match from both sides, the game sprung to life in the 17th minute.
Steelers’ Bronte Girdler scored and converted her own try before Leanne Jackson scored her team’s second a minute later.
But the hosts hit back in a big way, with Christian Pio (20th) and Lavinia Taiseni (21st) scoring back-to-back tries.
Leading 10-8, Lilly-Rose Bennett then extended the visitors lead in the 23rd minute.
But the Panthers then scored three tries in five minutes, through Jodi Leota-Hughes (24th), Litiana Tuifua (25th) and Faliki Pohiva (28th) – to give them their first lead of the match.
With half-time fast approaching, Lacey’s troops scored two four-pointers – Maddison Weatherall (29th) and Shannon Scutts (30th) – to level the score at 22-all at the break.
Both teams then struggled to find the line in the opening exchanges of the second half – with neither adding to their totals until the 47th minute, when Weatherall crossed for her second of the afternoon.
This proved to be a sign of things to come for the red and white, with Weatherall crossing another thee times, in the space of three minutes, to extend the Steelers lead out to 18.
The Panthers didn’t roll over though, with Tuifua and Pio both crossing for their second tries respectively but it proved to be too little, too late, as the Steelers ran out winners 46-32 – thanks to a late try to Weatherall and conversion by Girdler.
During the win, Group Seven was represented by Rhiannon Brown (Bomaderry), Bronte Girdler (Stingrays), Abbey Montgomery (Milton-Ulladulla) and Hannah England (Milton-Ulladulla).
This eight point victory, at Panthers Stadium, sees the Steelers improve their record to 8-0 on the season and sets up a mouth-watering clash with the also undefeated Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks this Saturday at WIN Stadium.
Steelers’ Tarsha Gale squad: Lilly-Rose Bennett, Mikayla Kidd, Maddison Weatherall, Eleni Amone, Rhiannon Brown, Bronte Girdler, Abby Holmes, Hannah England, Keeley Davis (c), Abbey Montgomery, Michaela Scutts, Leanne Jackson, Shannon Scutts, Emily Andrews, Hannah Byron and Taneisha Roberts.