SCENES! Panthers keep season alive with miracle try on siren
RUGBY LEAGUE: A try on the last play of the game and a brilliant individual performance from playmaker Latrell Hampton has kept the Sawtell Panthers' Group 2 season alive.
Hosting the Macksville Sea Eagles in a crucial clash in the race for the finals on Saturday night, the game started on edge as the heavy surface at Rex Hardaker Oval made it tough going for both sides.
The visitors managed to overcome the conditions first, with winger Michael Tyerman crashing over 15 minutes into the game after his side stripped Sawtell's defence of numbers.
Though the Panthers didn't have to wait long for a response, with their own number five Nathan Dyson scoring near the sideline following a similar overlap.
The game then fell back into an arm wrestle before explosive Macksville centre Kaji Buchanan bumped off his man to score the last try of the first half.
Down 12-4 at the break, a depleted Panthers outfit needed something to inspire them. It came in the form of Luke Serevi. With Sawtell under the pump on their own line, they finally cracked when Macksville fullback Jai Whaddy went straight through a hole.
As the livewire was running around to plant the ball behind the sticks, a flying Serevi came from nowhere to make the try-saving tackle of the year. Cue bum slaps and head taps.
Five minutes later Hampton showed his class near the tryline before passing to second rower Jordan Cavanagh-Haywood who crossed to get the Panthers back in the game.
With 15 minutes to go a melee broke out, with Sea Eagles prop Luke Shields, centre James Weimer and Panthers centre Nathan Cunningham sent to the bin as a result.
Hampton then stepped up once more to hand the Panthers the lead for the first time, as the speedster went 80m to score under the posts with eight minutes remaining.
Holding onto their 16-12 buffer for dear life, Sawtell hearts shattered when Macksville pivot Cameron Blair dummied and scored beside the upright with only two minutes left.
Down by two the Panthers would have one final set for a miracle. Enter Hampton.
Deep in his own territory the number seven skipped outside his man and dished the ball off to flyer Daniel Donovan.
Donavan exploded 60m down the touchline before drawing the fullback and passing to Dyson to score as the siren sounded. Cue madness on the hill and in the stands.
The 22-18 win means the Panthers hang onto fifth spot on the ladder.