Panthers fightback for finals
COMPETITION dark horse Wests Panthers have staved off the grim predictions of critics in a last-minute dash for finals selection.
The former Bundaberg Rugby League powerhouse has suffered a dizzying fall from grace this season clutching at the bottom rung of the competition ladder.
President Shane Martin was dealt a jaw-jarring blow as injuries mounted, scores blew out and loyal supporters walked from the grandstands.
“It’s been an extremely disappointing season for us,” he said.
“We’ve copped our fair share of setbacks and they’ve been exploited pretty comprehensively by our opponents.”
But the struggling Panthers are now poised for finals selection after a defeat of third-placed Easts Magpies and a draw against second-placed Isis Devils in their last two outings.
The recruitment of former Ipswich Jets campaigner Raymond Zysk and new halfback Jacob Yarrow has boosted the team in the finals lead-up and has given former half Josh Tanner space to spread his wings in the centres.
“They were excellent acquisitions for us and they’re beginning to pay dividends,” Martin said.
“Freeing up Tanner has given us a lot more attacking ability out wide and try-scoring ability.”
Panthers will challenge Across The Waves for fifth place on the competition ladder to secure a spot in the finals.
Martin said, if his team plays its last two games true to recent form, there may be a few local league pundits left scratching their heads.
“The boys have proven themselves over the last two weeks against two of the best teams in the competition,” he said.
“If we can secure that fifth spot and the boys stay on task I think we’ll have every chance of going all the way.”
Wests’ battle for a spot in the finals will begin at 1.30pm on Sunday against Brothers at Salter Oval.