The Panthers Jersey Flegg side held its nerve to secure a 26-20 victory over Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday.
Scores were level in the second half before a length of the field try from halfback Hayden Bonanno gave the Panthers the advantage.
The Panthers opened the scoring in their first set, with a grubber on the fifth tackle sitting up perfectly for winger Ethan Clark-Wood to touch down in the corner. The attempted conversion from Niwhai Puru was waved away.
After a sustained period of attack the Sea Eagles hit back in the 15th minute as lock Faleata Iosefa won the race to an in-goal grubber. Halfback Zane Harris knocked the conversion over to give Manly a 6-4 lead.
Five minutes later the Panthers were back in front as forward Brad Fearnley found a gap in the defensive line and dived over from close range. Puru was on target with the conversion to give the visitors a 10-6 lead.
The Panthers extended their lead seven minutes before the break as Mav Geyer flew high to snaffle a cross-field kick from Hayden Bonanno. The successful conversion gave Penrith a 16-6 advantage.
HALF-TIME – Panthers 16 – Sea Eagles 6
Manly were first on the board in the second half as a cut-out pass sent centre Daniel Ala over in the corner.
The home side scored again moments later as the Panthers paid the price for some soft defence through the middle, and Callan Burgess finished off the long-range try. The successful conversion locked the game up at 16-all.
Against the run of play the Panthers re-took the lead as Bonanno plucked a Manly attacking kick out of the air and sprinted the length of the field to score. With 17 minutes left to play, Penrith were ahead 22-16.
The Sea Eagles continued to dominate field position and made it count in the 55th minute. From the scrum, Zane Harris kicked behind the line and winger Raymon Vaega swooped to score. Harris couldn’t convert and Panthers maintained a two-point lead.
The Panthers sealed victory with two minutes left to play, as Niwhai Puru turned the ball inside for brother Hohepa Puru to crash over from close range.
FULL-TIME – Panthers 26 – Sea Eagles 20