PLAYERS | Matt Donovan

Panther 326

4 matches [1993]

0 points


Macksville junior who debuted with the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1992. After 10 appearances in his debut year, he signed with the Panthers in 1993.

He made his club debut in the opening round of the 1993 season starting as five-eighth. Whilst he would appear in the first three rounds (as a centre in Round 2 and as a replacement in Round 3), he would only make one more appearance in Round 18, once again as a replacement.

In 1994, he returned to Macksville, and established a long playing career in the Group 2 well into the 2000s, earning a number of accolades including being named in the Group 2 Team of the Century.

WINS | [1997] Round 8: Penrith 27 Brisbane 26

Monday 21st April at Penrith Stadium

Penrith 27 – Tries: Casey (1), Girdler (1), Hinson (1), Williams (1); Goals: Girdler (5) | Brisbane 26


Garen Casey opened the scoring when he picked up and grounded a deflected grubber kick to the in goal from Craig Gower. Ryan Girdler’s conversion made it 6-0.

A few minutes later, Jason Williams sidestepped his way through and around the Broncos defence on the left edge to run 30 metres to touch down. Girdler’s second conversion from the sideline gave the home team a 12-0 lead after only ten minutes. That was soon pushed out to 14-0 through a penalty conversion.

Three unconverted tries to the Broncos reduced it to a two-point lead on the half hour mark.

Despite receiving the ball 60 metres from the line from a line drop out, the set ended in more points to the Panthers when Girdler hit the line 15 metres out and just ran through the Broncos defenders to score adjacent to the left upright, with his conversion giving Penrith a 20-12 lead at half time.

Brisbane scored the first three tries of the second half to lead 26-20 with just over 15 minutes remaining.

However, the Panthers crucially were next to score when Andrew Hinson picked up a pass that went to ground and powered his way over to make it 26-24, with Girdler’s boot levelling it up at 26-all with ten minutes remaining.

With three minutes remaining, Craig Gower slotted a field goal from dummy half 10 metres out to give the Panthers a one-point lead and were able to hold on to record victory over the premiership heavyweights.

WINS | [2007] Round 3: Penrith 29 Brisbane 28

Friday 30th March at Suncorp Stadium

Penrith 29 – Tries: Gordon (2), Jennings (2), Lewis (1), Wesser (1); Goals: Campbell (2); Field goals: Wallace (1) | Brisbane 28


The Broncos opened the scoring with two penalty conversions to lead 4-0 within the first 10 minutes.

In the 19th minute, a well timed cut out pass from Rhys Wesser to an unmarked Michael Gordon on the right wing locked it up, with Gordon’s sideline conversion giving the visitors the lead.

Whilst the Broncos would lead 14-10 just after the half hour mark, through two tries (and punctuated by a second try to Gordon in the 28th minute), the Panthers would head into half time with two tries in the last five minutes and lead 20-14 – the first to Michael Jennings through an 85-metre intercept try, and then in the shadows of half time when Jennings’ centre partner Luke Lewis ran off a Trent Waterhouse offload to barge over.

However, the Broncos would first level it up early in the second half and then regain the lead and were up by eight points heading into the final 10 minutes.

In the 77th minute, Jennings picked up a loose Broncos pass that bounced off his feet forward and ran 90 metres untouched to touch down in the left corner. Gordon was unable to land the conversion and a four-point lead remained for the home team.

Receiving the kick-off from the restart on their goal line, the Panthers carried the ball up past the halfway line with some enterprising play and then earnt a penalty with less than 30 seconds remaining when Wesser was tackled without the ball.

With only seconds remaining, the play went to the right, with Lewis grubbering the ball towards the try line – it pinballed off a Broncos defender and dribbled into the in goal, with Wesser grounding it and claiming a try. After deliberations with the video referee, it was deemed that he was not offside, and the try awarded. In less than two and half minutes, the Panthers had erased the 8-point deficit with the scores tied up. However, Gordon was unsuccessful with the conversion and the match headed into golden point.

With scores still level at the end of the first period of golden point, Peter Wallace slotted a field goal from 45 metres out to secure a miracle come from behind victory for Penrith.

WINS | [2010] Round 15: Penrith 22 Brisbane 12

Friday 18th June at Suncorp Stadium

Penrith 22 – Tries: Coote (1), Kingston (1), Lewis (1), Purtell (1); Goals: Gordon (3) | Brisbane 12


Adrian Purtell grabbed a 65-metre intercept after 18 minutes, but Michael Gordon’s conversion sailed wide to remain 4-0.

The Broncos struck back with a converted try to lead 6-4 on the half hour mark, however with just three minutes remaining in the first half, the visitors regained the lead when Lachlan Coote caught a Luke Walsh bomb less than a metre from the try line and managed to ground it over the line, with Gordon’s conversion from almost right in front ensured the Panthers led 10-6 at half time.

In the 51st minute, Luke Lewis bagged a four-pointer when the Panthers captain ran through a gap on a right-side attacking raid. Whilst Gordon missed the conversion, he landed a penalty conversion 10 minutes later to make it 16-6.

When the Broncos scored a converted try to reduce it to a four point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining, it set up an exciting finish, however, the Panthers banked the two points on the stroke of full time when Kevin Kingston scampered over from dummy half.

PLAYERS | Peter Shiels

Panther 329

5 matches [1993]

0 points


Forward who made his way through the lower grade ranks with Presidents Cup and Reserve Grade before making his first-grade debut in 1993, starting in the second row in the opening round match versus Parramatta.

In total, he would make five appearances for the Panthers over the first half of the season, with his final appearance being in the Round 11 victory over Gold Coast.

Joining Western Suburbs in 1994, he would later be at the Western Reds and then Newcastle, making over 100 appearances in that seven-year stretch. He would then head to England playing out his career for St. Helen’s.

Post career, he set up a career in real estate, and is the brother-in-law of Greg Alexander.

PLAYERS | Ashley Gordon

Panther 335

7 matches [1993]

0 points


Brewarrina born fullback / winger who debuted for the Newcastle Knights in their inaugural premiership season in 1988.

After 71 appearances across five seasons and establishing himself as one of the premier backs in the premiership, he signed with the Panthers for the 1993 season.

He would make his club debut in the Round 6 match versus the Broncos at ANZ Stadium, coming off the bench. He would make 6 more appearances that season, alternating between fullback and wing.

However, he would leave Penrith at the end of the season, returning to Newcastle and playing out his career with the Knights. Post football, he has established himself as a well-known and respected Indigenous welfare advocate.

WINS | [2005] Round 21: Penrith 42 New Zealand Warriors 34

Saturday 30th July at Penrith Stadium

Penrith 42 – Tries: Rooney (2), Franze (1), Gower (1), Priddis (1), Waterhouse (1), Lewis (1); Goals: Campbell (7) | New Zealand Warriors 34


The visitors posted the first points after just three minutes, but three tries in an eight-minute period to the Panthers to Trent Waterhouse, Luke Rooney and Luke Priddis had seen Penrith lead 18-6 after just 16 minutes.

Whilst the Warriors scored another converted try soon after to reduce it to a six-point lead, tries to Craig Gower and a second to Rooney saw the hosts hold a 28-12 lead at half time.

However, three tries to the Warriors in the opening 12 minutes of the second half suddenly had it all level at 28-all.

But 10 minutes later the Panthers regained their lead through a try to Paul Franze, which was further compounded by a penalty conversion slotted by Preston Campbell and with six minutes remaining seemingly putting the contest out of reach for the Warriors.

A consolation try to the Warriors on the stroke of full time did nothing more than reduce the Panthers winning margin.

WINS | [2006] Round 21: Penrith 36 New Zealand Warriors 6

Saturday 29th July at Credit Union Australia Stadium

Penrith 36 – Tries: Wesser (3), Cross (1), T. Puletua (1), Rooney (1); Goals: Campbell (6) | New Zealand Warriors 6


The Warriors posted the first points to lead 6-0 after just three minutes.

However, The Panthers would equalise at the midway mark of the first half through a converted try to Tony Puletua, and then grabbed the lead just before half time with a try to Rhys Wesser and converted by Preston Campbell to give the hosts a 12-6 lead at half time.

A penalty conversion slotted by Campbell six minutes after the resumption made it 14-6, and then the Panthers pulled further ahead with a second try to Wesser after 53 minutes. From there, the Panthers really put the foot down with three more tries to Luke Rooney, Matthew Cross and a third to Wesser to complete a hattrick to run out convincing 30-point victors.

WINS | [2010] Round 6: Penrith 40 New Zealand Warriors 12

Sunday 18th April at Mount Smart Stadium

Penrith 40 – Tries: Kingston (2), Purtell (2), Burns (1), Coote (1), Gordon (1); Goals: Gordon (6) | New Zealand Warriors 12


Adrian Purtell opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he leapt for a Luke Walsh bomb at close range and barged his way over the line. Michael Gordon’s conversion made it 6-0.

In the 13th minute, Brad Tighe busted the Warriors defence 35 metres out from their line down the left-hand side and drew the two on one with the opposing fullback to find Kevin Kingston in support, sprinting the last 30 metres to the line.

At the 20-minute mark, yet another Walsh high bomb at close range was scooped up by Tighe, who found an unmarked Lachlan Coote to touch down.

A penalty conversion slotted by Gordon in the 29th minute made it 18-0, and with only a few minutes remaining in the half, the visitors crossed for their fourth try of the first half when Walsh once again provided a try assist with yet another high kick, this time aimed for the in goal, with Gordon catching the ball and simply having to just ground it to claim the try. Whilst his conversion was unsuccessful, the Panthers held a formidable 22-0 lead heading into the sheds.

However, the Warriors would claw back early in the second half with two tries to trail by just 10 after 51 minutes.

But Penrith would further increase their lead seven minutes later when Travis Burns stepped his way through the defence at close range and despite the attention of numerous Warriors defenders and being turned on his back was able to muscle his way through and plant the ball over the try line.

Penrith confirmed the win with two tries in the final 15 minutes – the first being a second to Purtell when the Panthers ran the ball on the fifth tackle and him finishing a chain of passes down the left-hand side assisted by Luke Lewis drawing the two on one. And it was iced with six minutes remaining when Kingston also bagged a second when a Tighe kick towards the uprights was scooped up by the hooker and despite diving just before the line, momentum pushed him over the line and thus was not deemed a double movement.

WINS | [2012] Round 24: Penrith 18 New Zealand Warriors 16

Sunday 19th August at Mount Smart Stadium

Penrith 18 – Tries: Coote (1), Kingston (1), T. Robinson (1); Goals: Walsh (3) | New Zealand Warriors 12


The Warriors led 10-0 after 25 minutes, before a Sam McKendry offload on the halfway line found an open Lachlan Coote and drawing in the Warriors fullback found Kevin Kingston back on his inside to touchdown under the black dot, and Luke Walsh’s conversion making it 10-6 in the approach to half time.

The home team posted the first points in the second half to extend their lead to 16-6.

On the 60-minute mark the Panthers once again struck back when Coote hit and spun through some feeble Warriors defence to reduce the margin.

Trailing 16-12 heading into the final five minutes, Travis Robinson stepped the opposing winger on the left edge at close range and was able to improve his position to tie it up at 16-all. Walsh’s conversion handed the visitors the lead for the first time in the match and were able to hold on for a tight two-point victory.

Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic