The Panthers have beaten Manly in a thriller at Brookvale Oval. In a game that saw everything that could happen, happen, our boys came home strong in the closing stages to win 31-24.

It was a slow start from both teams with errors and misplaced passes robbing the outside backs of try scoring opportunities. It wasn’t until the 25th minute that Delroy Berryman crossed over for an easy jog to the in-goal next to the corner flag. The Manly backs moved the ball from left to right to suck in Penrith defenders and the winger crossed over close to the line. Kurt Aldridge missed the kick and Manly led 4-0.

The Panthers returned serve in the 28th minute with a try of their own. Tom Eisenhuth went on a run down the sideline into Manly’s half dodging several defenders before being tackled on the 30 metre line. The boys backed up the run with a series of flick passes ultimately setting Eddie Aiono up for the Panthers first. Will Smith converted the try and Penrith were in front 6-4.

We didn’t have to wait long to extend the lead when the boys linked up for a textbook try. We moved the ball up the field with solid runs from our forwards and found ourselves in prime field position. Isaac John called for the ball from the play the ball, took a second to sum up the situation and threw a bullet pass to Tom Eisenhuth who slammed the ball down in the corner. Will Smith missed the kick and the Panthers took a 10-4 lead.

In the 38th minute the Panthers made their way to the opposition 20 metre zone and Adrian Davis called for the ball on the right side of the field. He looked up and saw Eddie Aiono racing up his wing and he threw a brilliant long range pass to the winger who touched down in the corner. Will Smith struck the ball sweetly to bring the score to 16-4 heading into half-time.

HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 16-4

Manly came out firing in the 2nd half scoring a try 4 minutes after the restart. We were caught on the back foot and the home team threw a collection of short passes to find Ben Fritz in the corner for the try. Aldrige missed the conversion and Penrith led 16-8.

The Sea Eagles cut into the Panthers lead again with their 2nd try inside the opening 10 minutes of the half. This time it was former Panther Tony Satini who ran over the top of our goal line defence to touch down. Aldridge’s conversion was unsuccessful and the Panthers were in front 16-12.

Manly’s Ben Fritz scored his 2nd try of the game with Penrith’s defence struggling to keep up with the home team’s barnstorming comeback. We were caught chasing shadows as the Sea Eagles backs raced up the field. After some catch and pass football from the play the ball, Fritz collected the ball on the 10 metre line and fended off Penrith defenders to dive over the line.  Aldridge kick the goal and Manly took an 18-16 lead.

Our boys dusted themselves off and took control of the situation to bounce back in the 62nd minute with a try to take the lead. Some outstanding catch and pass football gave the outside backs a bit of space and a spectacular offload from Chris Smith was caught by Eddie Aiono who scored his 3rd try of the afternoon. Will Smith nailed the conversion and the Panthers led 22-18.

Manly took the lead soon after in the 68th minute with a Manly try on the back of a penalty. The home side were in Penrith’s 20 metre zone ducking and weaving out of tackles and a short pass found the hands of Michael Chee-Kam close to the line to plant the ball down. Aldridge converted the try and the Sea Eagles took a 24-22 lead.

Penrith levelled the score a couple of minutes later with a penalty kick 10 metres out by Will Smith.

With a couple of minutes to go we took the lead with a sensational field goal from Tupou Sopoaga from a tight angle.

Play was then quickly restarted by Manly and the Panthers broke away courtesy of Chris Smith. The ball changed hands from left to right and Eddie Aiono crossed for his fourth of the afternoon right on the full-time buzzer. Will Smith kicked the goal and Penrith won 31-24.

FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 31-24