Matt Burton calls it unbelievable and Charlie Staines, well, you can’t wipe the smile off the flying Forbes fullback’s face.
The young stars played pivotal roles in Penrith coming up trumps in the 2018 SG Ball grand final on Saturday.
Burton was named man of the match after starring in the Panthers’ stunning second half comeback while Staines, as he’d done all campaign, showed an incredible turn of foot to score a decisive try in the 25-14 premiership victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Burton said he was too busy celebrating with teammates to realise he’d been named man of the match, after laying on his side’s second try and creating the line-break that started the movement Staines so brillianly finished off in the second term.
“It was great, I loved it. It was unbelievable,” Burton, a Dubbo junior, said.
“I wasn’t expecting any sort of individual awards, I was too happy about the win to even worry about that stuff.
“We took over in the end, it’s just unbelievable.”
Blayney Bears gun Joey Hobby was also part of the Panthers’ under 18s squad, but suffered an injury in round three and didn’t make it back in time for the finals.
And it’s losses like that of Hobby, Staines says, that makes eventually going on to claim the premiership all the more sweet.
“The boys dug deep for the whole game,” Staines said.
“It was so tough, the Bulldogs played well all year and they did again in the finals, it was good to come away with the win especially with the injures we’ve had this season.”
A game marred somewhat by the sending off of Bulldog Logen Dillon for an alleged eye gouge 12 minutes from fulltime, Penrith took control of the game in the final half.
The men in black limped to a 14-10 deficit at the break, the only real glimmer a stunning little grubber kick off the left boot of Burton for winger Ethan Clark-Wood to score mid-way through the half.
Penrith drew first blood in the second half and then made it back-to-back four-pointers when Burton turned bullocking centre Stephen Crichton back on his inside, who in turn found Staines in support to score and bump the Panthers out to a 22-14 lead.
Burton then kicked a penalty goal nearing full-time to bump Penrith up by a further two points before halves partner Hayden Bonnano potted a late field goal to ice the premiership triumph.
Penrith now plays the champions of the Queensland Rugby League’s under 18s competition this Saturday.
Both Staines and Burton will line-up in that game against South Logan before returning to their respective Group 11 clubs for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Burton thinks he’ll spend the majority of the year in the Fishies’ under 18s set up while Staines is hopeful of figuring in the plans of Magpies first grade mentor Cameron Greenhalgh, at some point this year.