Manly Warringah Sea Eagles suffered a 44-24 loss to minor premiers, Penrith Panthers, at ANZ Stadium this afternoon in the Holden Cup qualifying final.
The Sea Eagles fell for third time this season to the Panthers after finishing the regular season in fourth place.
Sea Eagles prop Liam Knight faces a nervous wait now after being placed on report for a dangerous tackle in the second half while James Parker and Darcy Cox left the field with concussion.
The loss means the Sea Eagles play a sudden death semi-final next Friday night (venue to be advised) against the winner of tomorrow’s elimination final between Wests Tigers (5th) and Canberra (8th).
The Sea Eagles opened the scoring in the fourth minute when five-eighth and captain Will Pearsall turned an inside ball for full-back Tom Trbojevic to cross for a 4-0 lead. Hooker Hug Pratt converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers opened their account in the 11th minute when winger Christian Chrichton scored in the left corner. The try was converted by half-back Nathan Cleary to make it 6-all.
Penrith then had a try disallowed to Cleary for a double movement a few minutes later.
Hooker Soni Like stretched Penrith’s lead to 10-6 when he burrowed over from dummy half for a soft try in the 22nd minute. Cleary converted for a 12-6 lead to the Panthers.
The Sea Eagles looked set to score in the 26th minute but winger Mitch Thomas was taken into touch.
Two minutes later, the Panthers went to a 16-6 lead when centre Corey Harawira beat two defenders to slam the ball down with one hand.
Manly Warringah hit back when Trbojevic found open space for a 30 metre run before sending centre Jesse Ramien over for a try. Pratt converted to leave the Sea Eagles trailing 16-12 after 34 minutes.
The Sea Eagles were set to draw level two minutes later but centre Addison Demetriou lost the ball just inches from planting it down for a try after beating three defenders.
The Panthers had full-back Brent Naden put on report after the half-time siren for a lifting tackle on James Parker which saw him leave the field with concussion. The Sea Eagles had one last play from the ensuring penalty but could not capitalise to be trailing 16-12 at half-time. Naden joined Sione Katoa as the two Penrith players on report in the first half.
Penrith extended their lead to 20-12 in the 45th minute when left centre Maliko Filino finished off a backline play. Cleary failed to convert the try.
Three minutes later, Sea Eagles lock Darcy Cox left the field with concussion after hitting the ground hard in trying to tackle Penrith second-rower James Fisher-Harris.
The Sea Eagles then had prop Liam Knight placed on report in the 50th minute for a dangerous tackle. Penrith made the most of the penalty when Paea Pua crashed over. Cleary converted for a 26-12 lead after 52 minutes.
Ten minutes later, Penrith lock Tyrone May finished off a 60 metre backline raid to score behind the posts. Cleary converted for a 32-12 scoreline.
Manly Warringah got back to 32-16 when Demetriou showed his strength in stripping the ball in a one-one-tackle on opposite centre Harawira. Pratt converted for a 32-18 scoreline after 67 minutes.
The Panthers then secured victory when Fisher-Harris crashed over in the 71st minute. Cleary converted for a 36-18 lead.
Luke stretched the lead to 42-16 with a try four minutes later. Cleary converted for a 42-18 lead.
Manly Warringah scored a late consolation try when Riley Travers popped a ball for Nicholas Hynes to pull from behind his back to score in the left corner for a 44-22 scoreline. Pratt converted from the sideline for a 44-24 scoreline after 78 minutes.
Sea Eagles team
1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Kyle Saunders, 3 Addison Demetriou, 4 Jesse Ramien, 5 Mitch Thomas, 6 Will Pearsall, 7 Nicholas Hynes, 8 Liam Knight, 9 Hugh Pratt, 17 Jyi Seymour, 11 James Parker, 15 Luke Garner, 13 Darcy Cox; interchange: 14 Riley Travers, 16 Dallas Koen, 18 Moses Noovao-McGreal, 23 Matt Douglas.