The Sydney Roosters have demonstrated their credentials as NRL title contenders with a gutsy and controversial 14-12 win over fellow high-flyers Penrith.
Former Panthers No.1 Michael Gordon went from zero to hero in the space of a few minutes on Saturday, scoring the 73rd-minute match winner.
The 11,043-strong Pepper Stadium crowd vented their frustrations at the referees after Latrell Mitchell appeared to throw the ball forward to Daniel Tupou in the lead-up to Gordon's decisive try.
Just a few minutes earlier, Gordon spilt a bomb and Waqa Blake picked up the spoils to cross for what appeared to be the icing on the cake for the home side.
However, it was overruled by the bunker after Tyrone Peachey and Matt Moylan were found to be offside.
Gordon again proved the hero in a helter-skelter final few moments, pulling off a try-saver on Peachey.
The Roosters are 3-0 and equal on six competition points with ladder leaders Melbourne.
It's the first time the Roosters have started the season with three straight wins since Ricky Stuart led the side to the 2004 grand final.
The Roosters took a 10-8 lead into half-time but the Panthers had overturned the deficit by the 58-minute mark thanks to two Nathan Cleary penalties.
Both sides threw everything at each other, but Gordon's try - the only four-pointer of the second half - proved the difference.
The Roosters' left side was again vital, with all three of their tries going down that channel.
Mitchell's night looked like becoming a nightmare when he twice kicked out on the full from the kick-off in the first half.
The Panthers took the lead when skipper Moylan produced a no-look, cut-out flick pass to Peachey, who planted it centimetres in from the touchline in the sixth minute.
The Roosters flagged their intention to send most of their traffic down their left side, and it paid off when Mitchell Pearce sent Gordon strolling through a giant hole for the first of his double.
The visitors went into the sheds up 10-8 when Mitchell sliced through, finding Pearce before backing up to score the go-ahead try.
After Cleary put his side back in front, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves thought he had wrested back control when he grounded a spilt bomb, but a Shaun Kenny-Dowall knock-on in the air led to it being overturned.
Blake thought he had got his side over the line, but Gordon's try in the next set sealed the result.
The Panthers are sweating on James Fisher-Harris, who suffered a fractured cheekbone in a head clash early in the game.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said his side weren't yet the complete package but he was full of hope after they toughed out a win against a quality opposition.
"It wasn't our best footy but to have them score one try like they did, that was a real Penrith try - the Moylan freak show, that was incredible footy and Shaun (Kenny-Dowall) almost stopped that try," Robinson said.
"We had to stop a heap more in the second half to win that game.
"You can analyse it all you want but you have to win those games to be a good team and the boys found a way."
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin refused to be drawn on the series of controversial moments at the death.
Asked for his thoughts on Mitchell's pass, he said: "How'd you see it?"
And on Gordon's try-saver on Peachey, which appeared to be high, he offered: "I don't know."
"I was really proud of our team," he said.
"The way they just kept coming in that game. We got beaten with points on the scoreboard but it was a really good effort and something we'll be able to build on."click here for full story...