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NRL Panthers win close one in Bathurst

NZN 30/04/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Two years after tearing his ACL on the same ground, Penrith captain Peter Wallace has put his demons to bed with a 79th-minute field goal to secure a thrilling 19-18 NRL win over Canberra in Bathurst.

The match continued a remarkable run of close contests for the Panthers in 2016, with all nine of their games now decided in the final five minutes.

Up 18-6 with 11 minutes remaining, they appeared headed for a second straight heartbreaker when in-form Raiders winger Jordan Rapana levelled the match with his second try in the 74th minute.

The Raiders had all the momentum as halfback Aidan Sezer lined up for the game-winning field goal.

But he missed, and while Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward also sent one wide soon after, Wallace nailed a 25-metre game-winner to ensure his team were on the right end of another close encounter.

The decisive moment on Saturday didn't come without controversy, with the bunker called on to clear the Panthers of impeding Paul Vaughan from chasing down the attempt.

Panthers coach Anthony Griffin played down the win, expressing his displeasure at the way his team let the Raiders have a shot at stealing the two points.

At one stage, the Panthers turned the ball over four times in a row in sets coming off their own line.

Twice the Raiders were held up over the line, while Edrick Lee bombed a further two tries.

"We come here today to defend a lot better and luckily that was our focus all week," Griffin said.

"We had a lot of defence in us otherwise we would've got beat today. We were very poor with the ball in the second half.

"You're just handing the opposition the ball every set after three tackles, you're going to have some points scored against you and that's what happened today."

Griffin was pleased the ball was in Wallace's hands in the clutch.

"He's kicked a lot of field goals in his time, Pete. When I saw it going back to him, I thought he'd kick it," he said.

Panthers second-rower Bryce Cartwright earlier set up a 12-6 halftime lead by scoring the first try with a 80-metre run and then set up the second for makeshift centre Tyrone Peachey.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was livid with the decision not to penalise Penrith for setting up a wall during the winning field goal attempt.

"There's a new rule this year in place where you're not allowed to have blockers to impede a player that's chasing down the kicker of a field goal. We had a player who was impeded by two blockers," he said.

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