steve-menzies-manly-sea-eagles-2008.jpgManly were back in good touch and playing good football again despite having several key players missing from their 30-10 victory over Penrith at Brookvale Oval tonight.

The Sea Eagles returned to the winners circle after a heavy defeat at the the hands of the Roosters last Round. The Eagles now leading the NRL by 2 points with 5 rounds remaining.

Ageless forward Steve Menzies, playing in game no. 340 for Manly, was in top form,scoring tries, as turning on some nice try assists for team mates. The man they call the Beaver was a handful all night for the Panthers’ defence.

Glenn Hall, Steve Bell, David Williams, Michael Robertson and Brett Stewart also touched down while Penrith’s tries went to centre Michael Jennings and lock Nathan Smith.

The win important for Manly, with Melbourne’s convincing win over the Gold Coast tonight keeping the pressure on at the top of the competition ahead of the grand-final rematch between the two sides next Friday.

Penrith, who had back-rower Frank Pritchard ruled out with a shoulder injury just before kick-off, were let down by ill-discipline and poor decision making in an error-riddled performance.

They remain in seventh but will drop out of the top eight if Canberra and the New Zealand Warriors win their matches this weekend.

When Jennings stepped his way over on the back of Rhys Wesser break just before halftime to make it 22-6 at the break, it gave the Panthers some hope of a miraculous comeback.

But any hopes were ended in the 51st minute when Menzies busted a tackle and powered his way to the line for his 172nd career try.

Panthers halfback Luke Lewis and Sea Eagles centre Steve Matai were forced from the field in the 56th minute after a sickening head clash, before Brett Stewart further extended the lead two minutes later.

The fullback showed great skills to tap a Matt Orford grubber over the head of Panthers winger Michael Gordon, before regathering it to score his 13th try of the season.

Penrith grabbed a late consolation try to Smith before being denied another, which would have been a stunner to hooker Masada Iosefa, by the video referee.

Manly coach Des Hasler was pleased with the performance but said an improvement was needed in next week’s top-of-the-table clash with the Storm.

“I thought we started really well and controlled all the things we needed to,” Hasler said.

“We were probably guilty of taking our foot off the pedal a little bit which was disappointing.

“They (Melbourne) are a very good side and they’re just trying to hit their straps after Origin and I still maintain they are the benchmark.

“We just probably need to improve in a few areas.”

Orford looked to be struggling at times with a groin injury that has plagued him in recent weeks and was given an early mark by Hasler, but said it was a manageable problem.

Panthers coach Matthew Elliott said his side was simply outplayed but knew the performance wasn’t a true indication of where his team was was at.

“We played a very good football team today,” Elliott said.

“I guess the positive is we were a long way off our best footy, I thought that was pretty obvious to see … we’re a far more capable team than that.”

Elliott said it was too early to tell if Lewis would miss Saturday’s clash with the Bulldogs but described him as “an unhealthy boy.”

“He’s in a bad way, it’s a really, really nasty cut … down to the skull,” Elliott said.

Matai returned to the field late in the game after suffering a minor cut in the head clash.

MANLY 30 (S Bell G Hall S Menzies M Robertson B Stewart D Williams tries S Matai 3 goals) bt PENRITH 10 (M Jennings N Smith tries M Gordon goal) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: S Hayne. Crowd: 7,862

By ricky

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