Two tries to fullback Charlie Staines propelled the Jersey Flegg Panthers to a comfortable 22-14 victory over Parramatta Eels at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
Panthers coach Ben Harden had one change to his starting side. Utility Adam Fearnley started at hooker, pushing Dylan McBain back to the bench.
It took the Panthers a matter of minutes to get on the scoreboard as fullback turned five-eighth Daine Laurie gave the final pass to towering second-rower Terrell May. May steamrolled his way through the defence to give the Panthers the perfect start. Stephen Crichton added the extras to give the Panthers a six-point lead.
Crichton was soon in the action following a shift to the left edge. The rangy centre got on the outside of his man and strolled over to score out wide. His conversion attempt was waved away, leaving Penrith with a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The Eels hit back after 20 minutes of play. A staggered defensive line gave Noel Aukafolau an easy passage to the line from five metres out. The conversion attempt from Kyle Schneider was waved away.
With just four minutes remaining in the half, Staines found himself in open space. He attracted the opposition fullback, dummied to his support runners and touched down underneath the posts to extend the Panthers' lead. Crichton converted to give Penrith a 16-4 advantage at the break.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 16 - Eels 4
The Eels burst out of the blocks in the second half and it was lock forward Arron Shelford who got Parramatta back into the contest. Shelford powered his way over out wide, however the conversion attempt was again waved away.
The Panthers wrestled back ascendancy and pounced on their first opportunity of the half. Dylan McBain’s grubber ricocheted off the defence and Staines was on the spot to claim his second four-pointer of the afternoon. Crichton’s clean strike from out wide extended the lead to 22-8 with 20 minutes remaining.
Jesse Cronin ensured the Panthers would have to fight for the two points when he barged over from close range. Schneider's conversion brought the score to within eight points with nine minutes to play.
However the young Panthers withstood the Eels' remaining attacking raids to leave Leichhardt Oval with a comfortable 22-14 victory.
The victory also saw the Panthers regain second spot on the competition ladder midway through Round 9.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 22 - Eels 14