The Panthers have extended their lead at the top of the NSW Cup table after a convincing 36-0 win over Manly at Sportingbet Stadium this afternoon.
Completing Penrith’s hat trick for the weekend, Garth Brennan’s slightly depleted side pulled together a game plan and dug deep to keep the Sea Eagles scoreless the entire game, and come away with the two points.
There were quite a few changes to Penrith’s line up before kickoff, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Nathan Smith and Vaipuna Tia Kilifi moving from the bench to the starting side, and Liam Ayoub and Peter Tia Tia being called in to cover them for interchange.
It was a bit of a scrappy game with plenty of mistakes and dropped balls from both teams. The Panthers crossed first in the fourth minute of play when Waqa Blake barged his way through Manly’s backline and dived over to score. Wes Naiqama converted to give Penrith a 6-0 lead.
For the next half an hour Manly put the Panthers under all kinds of pressure, forcing a few errors and never letting us get much further than half way. In turn, we defended extremely well and didn’t let the Sea Eagles anywhere near their end of the field.
With three minutes until the half time break, Tom Humble scored our second try after breaking through several tackles on the 30m line and taking off down the field, eventually jogging the ball over the line. Naiqama’s kick from in front extended the home side’s lead to 12-0.
HALF TIME: 12-0 Panthers
We were a little slow to start in this half and we made a couple of mistakes, but we eventually found the line again in the 57th minute, when Humble ducked and weaved us way through Manly’s defence and dived over to score his second of the day. The kick went straight through the uprights, so the score went to 18-0.
Less than five minutes later, Humble crossed for his hat trick after a grubber kick from Luke Capewell bounced off a Sea Eagles defender and back into his arms, and as everyone stood back a little stunned he dived in under the posts. Naiqama made it four from four to blow the Panthers’ lead out to 24-0.
Our fifth unanswered try came courtesy of some nice footwork from Tom Eisenhuth who broke through Manly’s backline and sprinted 20m before offloading to Blake, who dragged several defenders over the line with him. Naiqama never looked like missing, giving the Panthers a 30-0 lead.
With five minutes on the clock a scuffle broke out in the middle of the field and Manly’s Tyson Andrews was sin binned for punching Reagan Campbell-Gillard. In the next play, Panthers enacted the ultimate revenge when Kev Naiqama sprinted over the line for the final try of the match. Humble took the kick and added the extra two, giving Penrith one of their most satisfying wins of the year.
FULL TIME: 36-0 Panthers