6 Jul 2010

Panthers win but all eyes on Gasnier

7:03 am on 6 July 2010

Mark Gasnier's much hyped return to the National Rugby League failed to inspire St George Illawarra to victory last night with the Dragons losing 12-8 to Penrith at Jubilee Oval.

With both sides missing their Origin stars, the spotlight remained firmly on Gasnier, who last played in the NRL 661 days ago, despite the Panthers' win in front of 12,974 fans.

The 28-year-old received a rousing reception from the Dragons flag-waving faithful, who had come up with one banner reading OrGAZmic for the occasion.

The former Test star was injected from the bench to play right centre in the 26th minute.

There were flashes of the brilliance - a sidestep here, a flick pass there - which made him a league star and earned him a lucrative contract with French rugby union side Stade Francais.

The Panthers joined St George Illawarra at the top of the NRL ladder with the win, which snapped a six-game losing streak against the red and whites.