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Penrith's stunning seasons continues to go from strength-to-strength after they blitzed Manly 42-12 at Lottoland, thanks to a near perfect first half.
The Panthers got off to an ominous start when the Bunker was required to look at a possible try to Charlie Staines inside the opening 90 seconds. Thankfully for Manly, a knock-on was found.
Their joy was short lived as the Bunker was called upon for a possible Staines try in the 8th minute, after he received the ball outside a compressed Manly defensive line and made a beeline for the corner. He slid over and scored only just before going into touch. Nathan Cleary failed to convert from out wide.
In the 17th minute Isaah Yeo scored after he took on the line, landed just short but his momentum saw him slide over, albeit on his back, but he rolled over and finally grounded the ball for a good solo try. Cleary converted from right in front.
Eight minutes later, Penrith were in again when Staines received a long looping pass, charged for the line, dived and scored a stunning try in the corner despite the rest of his body being in the air and over the sideline. Cleary added the extras with a brilliant sideline conversion.
Only four minutes passed before Penrith were in again after a Cleary put in a grubber, which hit a Manly defenders leg and Cleary fell on it for a fresh set of six, 10 metres from the Manly line. Penrith go to the right side this time, where Viliame Kikau stood in a tackle then offloaded to Jarome Luai, who drew the cover defender before passing to the unmarked Stephen Crichton, who dived over for a good try. Cleary again nailed the extras.
Penrith's perfect first half took a hit in the 33rd minute when Manly finally got on the board. Daly Cherry-Evans received the ball on the left side and quickly switched direction with a beautiful ball inside to Jake Trbojevic who crashed over for a try. Reuben Garrick converted from almost in front.
The ladder leaders received a penalty right on half time and Nathan Cleary added another two points to his sides total. Penrith led 24-6 at the break.
The Panthers were the first to score in the second half when Cleary scored a brilliant solo try in the 50th minute after he put in a delicate grubber for himself, 10 metres from the Manly line, regathered and scored untouched. He then converted his own try.
Manly wouldn't go away though and 8 minutes later they scored their second try when Cherry-Evans put in a splendid low, cross-field chip kick that bounced nicely for Jorge Taufua, who caught the ball after the bounce and scored untouched in the corner. Garrick's sideline conversion was perfect.
Penrith crossed again in the 64th minute when they swung the ball to the left before a nice cut out pass by Tyrone May sent Brent Naden over in the corner for a good try. Cleary again added the two from touch.
The brilliant Panthers performance was capped in the 71st minute when Luai got the ball on the left side, but everyone on both sides were flat footed. He stepped and skipped his way back into the middle before passing to Api Koroisau, who ran through a huge gap to score under the posts. Cleary converted from right in front.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12 - Penrith Panthers 42
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 6 Penrith Panthers 24
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Nathan Cleary
2 points - Liam Martin
1 points - Caleb Aekins
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (12)
Tries: Jake Trbojevic, Jorge Taufua
Conversions: Reuben Garrick (2/2)
PENRITH PANTHERS (42)
Tries: Charlie Staines (2), Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Stephen Crichton, Brent Naden, Apisai Koroisau
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (6/7)
Penalty Goals: Nathan Cleary (1/1)