The Penrith Panthers made amends for their hiding at the hands of the Manly Sea Eagles last week by getting a win where it matters most; the elimination final.
In a match that was spiteful and between two sides that clearly hated the other, it was Penrith who came away with the glory to produce a 22-10 win at Allianz Stadium.
The game started rather sloppily from both sides before it became a no-holds barred slugfest that resulted in several missed opportunities and big hits.
As both teams fought for ascendancy, it was Manly who scored the first try of the game after an earlier penalty goal by Penrith.
A nifty chip kick by Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic found Dylan Walker who made the most of it to score. Penrith would hit back, however, as a well-timed grubber by Nathan Cleary ricocheted off the post to fall into the outstretched arms of Bryce Cartwright who picked the ball up and scored in one motion.
The second half is where the conjecture happened in the eyes of many when, firstly, Manly were denied a second try to Dylan Walker who was deemed offside off a kick despite replays suggesting the evidence was inconclusive.
Manly were then denied once more by the bunker, this time in an effort by Akuila Uate, deemed to have knocked on in the act of scoring.
They would hit back with a try of their own, however, to make the contest interesting with former Panther Lewis Brown barging through some butter-like defence to score and level things up.
Although momentum was with Manly at that time, it was wrestled back by Bryce Cartwright who crossed the line for his second of the match.
The icing on the cake came from yet another contentious decision as Tyrone Peachey crossed the line.
It started with an innocuous grubber from Cartwright that bounced off a Manly leg and despite replays seeming to show that it had touched Peachey’s arm that propelled the ball forward, it was given a try.
That, in turn, was the nail in the coffin for the Sea Eagles as Penrith march on to another week of the finals.
Manly coach Trent Barrett was visibly frustrated by the bunker’s decision-making process and voiced his thoughts on the incidents.
“If the ricochet is awarded no try, which they should have done, they can’t overturn it. It’s crazy, and it’s cost us our season. Deadset, what am I meant to say to the players? Unbelievable,” he said.
“The referee is better off putting his hands in the air and saying ‘I’ve got no idea so let’s have a look at it’ rather than influence the decision of the Bunker with a ‘no try’ or ‘try’. How the hell can you see? It went off a foot into a leg into a chest onto a hand. He must have good eyes.”
With their season now over, Barrett was careful not to attack the referees directly but he did speak directly to Tony Archer – the referees boss – at one point.
“I have to be careful with what I say, but what I would like is the Bunker and (referees boss) Tony Archer and the referees to go into my shed and explain to my players that their season is now finished on the back of those two calls. The season will go on for everyone else and everyone will say ‘Manly got some rough calls’, but that’s not good enough.”
The man at the centre of the big moment, Tyrone Peachey, admits he could not really recall the incident as such and that he did not feel the ball brush his arm.
“I was calling off Carty (Cartwright) and thought he was going to pass it, that was probably why I didn’t have my hands up and it ended up getting me on the chest,” Peachey said.
“I couldn’t tell, I didn’t see. It was pretty fast and can’t remember exactly what happened. I had the “T” (try) sign up looking at the ref – it was frantic.
“Once I saw them checking the grounding I was confident, it was an awesome feeling and we just had to hold them out.”
Player of the Game:
3. Bryce Cartwright
2. Tom Trbojevic
- Nathan Cleary
Penrith Panthers 22 (Bryce Cartwright 2, Tyrone Peachey tries; Nathan Cleary 5 goals) eliminated Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10 (Dylan Walker, Lewis Brown tries; Matt Wright 1 goal) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: Panthers 10-4. Crowd: 15,408.