It was back to the future at CUA Stadium last night, their were some eery similarities to many a cold night way back in 2003. It was the Panthers playing at their best, still true to their touch footy style – this time they were punishing Manly 40-22.
After much talk of their tries from kicks, the Panthers shrugged it off and showed they will simply score points any way they want.
Their punch coming from the one-man strike force that is Michael Jennings. The elusive centre turning up the pace and bagged 3 tries in a scoring fest at the foot of the mountains.
It had the crowd of 15,000 beaming at Penrith, with their men ‘glowing’ in Pink colours for the McGrath Foundation – it was a very handy win for the Panthers – keeping them clearly in second spot and extended the distance from nearest rivals by 4 points on the ladder.
On current form, the Dragons and Panthers are edging away from the rest of the pack – going a long way to securing a Top 2 position each.
While Jennings bagged a bunch of points, coach Matt Elliott knows that the key to his sides success is the ability across the board.
Brad Tighe has begun to return to his best, Flash Gordon has been unstoppable as has livewire Lachlan Coote at the back. All this behind a well-balanced forward pack – a pack that boasts experience, rep-honours and youth all mixed in.
The recipe is coming together extremely well.
For the other mob, it isn’t so rosy. The injury riddled Manly Sea Eagles look a shadow of their former early-season selves. The value of Jamie Lyon to this side is blatantly obvious and it seems other players are carrying niggling injuries.
Steve Matai is consistently a hospital ward, but he is playing like an emergency room at the moment. At any time it seems like the Westpac Rescue chopper will be needed to scrape him off the turf.
While the Sea Eagles were able to notch up 20 or so points, Des Hasler was quick to point out the 40 points scored against them.
Hasler confirming it certainly is ‘panic stations’ on the Northern Beaches.
Manly can take some heart from the fact their for and against remains in good stead at positive 28, along with the BYE in hand which is a guaranteed 2 points for them.
They’ve gotta think glass half full, although after the horror show last night – it might be tricky to do.
Penrith 40 (M Jennings 3, B Tighe, T Waterhouse, M Gordon, G Cooper tries; M Gordon 6 goals) Manly 22 (T Williams 2, K Foran, G Stewart tries; S Rodney 2 goals, S Matai goal). Referees: T Archer, T De Las Heras. Crowd: 14,978.