Comets crash the Panthers' pink party in absolute thriller
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Sawtell Panthers nearly pulled off one of the all-time great comebacks on Saturday afternoon as they came from the clouds against the Coffs Harbour Comets.
The Comets looked in an ominous mood early in the game when prop Miles Fairbank crashed over the first time his side had good field position.
Only a couple of minutes later Coffs found themselves in the attacking 20m once more and were able to strip the Panthers defence of numbers, allowing centre Peter Uikelotu to cross out wide.
Captain Brad Collinson then got his name on the scoresheet after a intricate wrap-around play in the lead up saw him put through a hole.
Soon after Collinson had a double and put the Comets up 24-0 within 20 minutes after being on the end of a brilliant offload from Jason Whareiatu.
From there though the match flipped on it's head, as the Panthers roared into life.
Sawtell's first try came when Latrell Hampton's show-and-go had the Comets defence in two-minds before the playmaker exploded through a gap and ran 15m to score.
Within the shadows of halftime Panthers' halfback Tyran Stevenson put up a swirling bomb which left Comets winger Billy Griffith and fullback Nathan Curry left saying 'yours'. The decision to let the towering kick bounce cost them as Panthers second-rower Angus Dam toed through the loose ball for a try to cut the deficit in half.
Soon after the break Stevenson did it all himself from close range to bring his side within six points, before a 85m try to Sawtell centre Todd Johnson off a scrum play brought the scores level.
The game then went into a tense arm wrestle and the Panthers were the first to crack, with Comets winger Michael Emile sent over in the corner after a short-side raid on the last tackle.
Five minutes later Johnson brought Sawtell back into the game once more after carrying three defenders over the line, leaving the score at 30-28 to the Comets.
Uikelotu then grabbed his second for the Comets with six minutes left on the clock. Curry slotted the crucial conversion from the sideline for an eight-point advantage.
The Panthers then kicked a penalty goal to get it within a converted try and had their chances to snatch the game late, but the Comets defence held strong to record a memorable 36-30 win.
The victory leaves the Comets alone at the top of the Group 2 ladder as the Panthers remain in third.
Sawtell were wearing special pink jerseys for the match to raise money for the McGrath Foundation.