Cronulla five-eighth Brett Seymour put forward his case to play alongside new signing Trent Barrett next year with an outstanding display to lead the Sharks to a nail-biting 24-22 win over Penrith at CUA Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Seymour had a hand in all five of the Sharks’ tries, including one for himself to open up a seemingly unassailable 24-10 lead with 12 minutes to play, only for the Panthers to score two tries in the dying stages to nearly steal the points.
The Panthers almost snatched victory at the death with a desperate last-gasp effort, but a break down in play saw the home side relinquish a three-game winning streak.
The missed opportunity was indicative of the sloppy handling that hindered the Panthers’ attacking movement throughout the contest.
Alongside Seymour, winger Luke Covell continued his return to form with a hat-trick to back up his brace last week against the Titans as Cronulla continued to flaunt its new-found attacking impetus on the left hand flank to temporarily take equal top spot on the NRL ladder.
“It’s been a bit of a slow year, probably needed a bit of a kick in the bum which was good and it is great to get some tries on the board and get back into some good form,” Covell told ABC Grandstand.
“It’s a bad habit the Sharks have got, lucky enough the boys hung in there, our ball control probably gave us the fitness we needed at the end of the game.
“Our kicking game was sensational, it was great to have three options there, that really helped us out.
“We knew if we could control that would win us the game.”
The kicking game of Brett Kimmorley was quite influential, but the Sharks’ half-back praised Seymour’s magnificent effort.
“He played really good, our forwards were good gave us a lot of shape, he had a lot of space today and we executed our footy good, so it was good for him,” he said.
Seymour played a key part in the Sharks’ four dazzling opening-half tries, the first an industrious grubber for Covell following some improvised back line play while an inside ball from a set play led Ben Pomeroy to line as the Sharks negated Michael Jennings’ opener.
The number six did it all himself for his side’s third, cruising through the bemused Panthers’ defence to slide over in the corner before throwing a cut-out ball for Covell taking the score to 18-6 at the break.
But it was his pinpoint cross-field chip for Covell’s third with the game in the balance at 18-10 in the second half that proved influential.
Covell then handed over the goal-kicking duties to Seymour who levelled what could be viewed as the match-winning conversion from the sideline.
The Panthers’ 15 handling errors spoke volumes of their horrendous 23/37 completion rate as they tried in vain to conjure a late comeback when Jarrod Sammut, Trent Waterhouse and Shane Rodney all crossed in the second 40 minutes.
Luke Lewis’ honeymoon at half-back may have come to a halt despite a brave effort, while Frank Pritchard’s impact on the fringes was limited by a stomach bug.
Sharks: 24 (L Covell 3, B Pomeroy, B Seymour tries; Covell, Seymour conversions)
Panthers: 22 (M Jennings, J Sammut, T Waterhouse, S Rodney tries; Sammut 3 conversions)