In a two-try effort, Matai has put his hand up for NZ selection, as he excelled for the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, taking the game out 22-16.
Will Hopoate, filling in for the injured Brett Stewart at fullback, had a solid game as well, as he continued his good form over the last few weeks.
Despite their win, the Sea Eagles were not always in control of the game, as Penrith dominated field position and possession for the first 20 minutes of the games.
Despite their dominance for that first 20 minutes, the Panthers could not crack the line, and it cost them the game in the end.
The score is perhaps not indicative of what really went down in the game, as for the final 60 minutes, the Sea Eagles were by far the better side.
When asked about Hopoate’s form, Manly coach Des Hasler scoffed at the question.
“I don’t have to talk about him do I? Surely you’ve seen the game, what’s there to talk about?” he said.
“He did some great things out there.”
He also confirmed that negotiations with Hopoate are progressing well as they talk to his management.
“We’ve had really good discussions with Will’s management … we’re confident.”
Manly captain Jamie Lyon had just as much praise for their young star.
“He’s confident. He’s made of the right stuff and he’s going to be around for a long time,” he said.
“Hopefully we can keep him for a few years yet.”
Panthers coach Matthew Elliott, was disappointed that his side failed to take advantage of their opportunities in the first 20 minutes, and admitted that his side needs drastic improvement.
His side could also slip to 16th on the ladder if other results go against them.
“Pay tremendous credit to Manly’s goal line defence, but we just can’t quite get across the line or get the ball down across the line,” the under pressure coach said.
Dally M Points
3 Steve Matai
2 Will Hopoate
1 Daly-Cherry Evans