The Panthers have handed The Sea Eagles their first defeat of the year, beating the competition leaders 36-16 at Pepper Stadium this afternoon.

The Panthers opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a dazzling passing display from sideline to sideline. Workhorse Brent Naden slipped the ball to Maliko Filino who broke through a gap to crash over the line. The kick failed to find its way between the uprights, giving the home side a 4-0 lead.

Penrith’s early celebrations were short lived though after a flurry of fancy footwork left our defence scrambling and a powerful run from the Sea Eagles James Parker saw them hit back with a try of their own in the 19th minute. The ball flew through the uprights and moved the away team into the lead 6-4.

A misstep in the 27th minute halted play with Joshua Jay’s knee in question, but the gusty number five was back on his feet within a couple of minutes.  

Manly’s Riley Travis was next to break through the scrambling Panthers defence where he lured Brent Naden in before feeding the ball to Matt Douglas, whose sheer speed ensured he covered the remaining distance to the try line unopposed in the 28th minute. The kick was waved away so the Sea Eagles extended their lead to 10-4.  

An inspired tackle from Brent Naden prevented another Sea Eagles try a minute later, and halted momentum for both teams for the rest of the half.

HALF-TIME: 10-4 SEA EAGLES

The Panthers entered the second half with a renewed determination in attack, taking advantage of the increasing shade and the flagging intensity of their opponents.

We almost had a try in the 45th minute when Thompson Tuigamala powered through the Sea Eagles defence to slide five metres, but he came up just short of the white stripe.

But Penrith’s hunger in attack was soon to pay off again with Maliko Filino adding his second set of points to the board for the game in the 51st minute.  The conversion levelled the score at 10-10.

Determined to take the lead, halfback Tyrone May rallied his charges with an inspired sprint to bamboozle the Sea Eagles defence, before he passed the scoring honours on to Brent Naden in the 55th minute. The fullback covered the final 15 metres with style, blowing kisses to the crowd after touching the ball to the ground between the posts. The easy conversion from right in front gave the Panthers the lead again 16-10.

The Panthers showed no signs of slowing down their scoring rampage, with Corey Harawira-Naera crossing close to the posts only a minute later. The ball sailed comfortably over the middle bar and extended the Panthers lead to 22-10.    

Harawira-Naera earned his second try 10 minutes after, punching through Manly’s defence off the back of a snap pass to score. The conversion missed, but the added points pushed the Panthers further in front 26-10.

The Sea Eagles dwindling energy showed and the Panthers continued to take full advantage of their tiring adversary.  Joshua Jay burst easily through their backline and crashed over the line near the outside post. The kick extended our lead to 32-10.

Jack Nelson put the icing on the cake for the home side, backing himself with a huge side step and a bursting run from 10m out to dive over the line, taking several defenders with him. The kick missed its target, so the score went to 36-10.

In the final seconds of the game Manly scored a conciliation try after Scott Moran chased a grubber kick and beat a Penrith defender to the ball just as it was about to go dead, and he grounded it for the extra points. The kick took the score to 36-16 as the full time siren sounded.

FULL TIME: 36-16 PANTHERS