The Jersey Flegg Panthers have defeated Manly Sea Eagles 30-20 in the Round 1 showdown at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
Kicking off their 2022 campaign in style, Penrith fought hard the entire game and came away with the victory thanks to some skilful attacking play from halfback Connor Mason and a solid defensive performance by captain Hohepa Puru.
Capitalising off some sustained attack Manly were able to create an overlap on the left side with Flynn Angles-Corke spreading the ball to find Jason Smyth who drew in the defence before Cameron Brown put the ball down in the corner.
The sideline conversion proved too difficult for five-eighth Donovan Boney.
Eager to open their account Mason found space in the Manly line, charging forward before offloading to captain Puru who crossed behind the posts.
Mason’s successful kick gave the home side a two-point advantage.
The Sea Eagles pounced on a Panthers error from the kick-off, sending Brown over for his second, as Boney made no mistake adding the extras.
Absorbing the pressure from defending repeat sets, the Panthers were able to make use of their possession in attack.
A perfectly placed kick from the boot of Mason found centre Simon Tito who claimed the ball mid-air, bumping off two defenders before planting the ball down for a four-pointer.
Mason slotted the conversion from beside the posts as the Panthers ran into a slender lead.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 12 - SEA EAGLES 10
Manly were quick to open the scoring in the second half, spreading the ball across the field to find Brown who flew high to secure a hat-trick and regain the lead for the Sea Eagles.
A successful conversion from Boney gave Manly a four-point lead with half-an-hour left to play.
But it was Mason’s creativity in attack that saw the scores draw level once more, creating an opportunity for Ilai Tuia to score a try before converting his efforts from close range, taking the score to 18-16.
Responding quickly, Manly fullback Toroa Rapana produced a barnstorming run to find Boney in support who would cross the line to put the Sea Eagles ahead by two.
A change in kicker didn’t help their cause though, with Brown’s conversion attempt falling short.
Desperate for points, Panthers five-eighth Isaiah Iongi produced a four-pointer in the 55th minute, dummying to his right before diving over the line. Mason’s conversion attempt was waved away, as the Panthers now held a 22-20 lead.
A loose carry from Sea Eagles winger Sanele Aukusitino gave the Panthers possession in their attacking 20, a passage of play which would prove crucial to the games result.
Crossing the line off the back of the error, Penrith winger Daeon Amituanai extended his team’s lead to 26-20 with Mason’s kick falling just short of successful.
A barnstorming run from Ativalu Lisati saw him carry four defenders over the line as the Panthers scored back-to-back tries.
The kick proved too difficult for Panthers fullback William Fakatoumafi, but the home side had finished the game with a comfortable ten-point victory.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 30 - SEA EAGLES 20