The second match on Friday night was another electrifying performance by a team at the top of the ladder with the number two Panthers handing the Sea Eagles a 40 – 22 hammering at CUA Stadium.
Penrith have now won their last three consecutive games, including their impressive 22 – 12 victory over the Broncos the previous week, setting up a scintillating fight for the top spot. The Panthers now trail the No. 1 Dragons by just two competition points.
The loss has pushed the Sea Eagles down two spots into seventh position, Manly only able to win one of their past four when they narrowly defeated the Rabbitohs 26 – 25 the week before.
On Friday the Panthers’ win was highlighted by an impressive hat-trick of tries from one of the NRL’s speediest players, Michael Jennings. Jennings was overlooked for the first two Origin showdowns this year, but his dangerous attack would have definitely caught the attention of Blues selectors.
It was a nice welcome back for their skipper Petero Civoniceva, who played in his first match since breaking his hand in the Origin series opener.
It was Brad Tighe who opened Penrith’s account, scoring their first of an eventual seven tries just five minutes into the match after a clever offload from Jennings to give them an early four point lead.
Not too long after Manly got their first four-pointer when Kieran Foran crossed in the 13th minute. Shane Rodney converted and the Sea Eagles lead 6 – 4.
But the Panthers quickly picked up their game and ran in three unanswered tries and a penalty kick in the first half to give them a very comfortable lead. First Trent Waterhouse scored in the 19th minute, followed by Michael Jennings’ first in the 26th minute after a neat dummy, and one to the in-form Michael Gordon in the 33rd who finished off a gallant 70 metre effort. Gordon converted all three, including his own, and also kicked a 31st minute penalty so Penrith went to half time leading 24 – 6.
Back from the break it was the Panthers who were first to score again, Gavin Cooper scoring just three minutes into the second half, and the conversion pushing them even more in front.
At this stage Manly were in big trouble, and despite a solid performance, were never a threat to the thrilling Panthers.
Glenn Stewart managed to score the second Sea Eagles try in the 57th minute, but they missed the kick and still trailed 30 – 10.
Then two minutes later Michael Jennings scored his second match try for Penrith after intercepting the ball, with Gordon again booting it through the posts, undoing any good work Manly had done.
In the final quarter Manly’s Tony Williams scored himself a double with tries in the 66th and 80th minutes, Steve Matai and Shane Rodney converting one each to bring the Sea Eagle’s final score to 22.
But between Williams’ efforts, Michael Jennings completed his hat trick of tries to make it 40 – 22 in favour of the fearless home side.
This weekend features one of the most exciting games of the season, when the Panthers play the Dragons, while the Sea Eagles will be pleased to have a bye. Get the odds for the Penrith v St George showdown at Ladbrokes.com.au today!