R 26 NRL Manly Sea Eagles vs Penrith Panthers at Lottoland  . Picture : Gregg Porteous

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles are IN THE FINALS!

In front of the biggest home crowd of the year at Lottoland, the Trent Barrett Coached Sea Eagles crushed Penrith 28-12 to book their place in the Telstra Premiership finals for the first time since 2014.

Both teams went into the match on 30 points with Penrith in sixth place and Manly eighth. The win sees the Sea Eagles finish the regular season on 32 points and in sixth place.

If Newcastle beat Cronulla on Sunday, Manly could finish as high as fifth.

The match marked the final home game for Manly prop Brenton Lawrence since joining the Sea Eagles in 2013. The game also saw the successful return from a pectoral injury of Manly second-rower Curtis Sironen.

On a wonderful day for the club that also saw Manly make the Holden Cup finals, Sea Eagles greats Brett Stewart and Matt Ballin did a lap of honour around the ground to acknowledge their retirement and years of tremendous service to the club. Unfortunately, retired Manly centre Sreve Matai could not make the match due to personal family commitments.

The Sea Eagles opened the scoring when the ball was shifted to the left for centre Brian Kelly to beat two defenders to score out wide. Winger Matthew Wright failed to convert the try from the sideline for a 4-0 lead after nine minutes.

Kelly gave the final pass for Manly’s second try when he delivered a nice pass to send captain and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans over next to the posts. Wright converted for a 10-0 lead after 25 minutes.

Manly went to a 14-0 lead when lock Jake Trbojevic scored under the posts from an offload by Lloyd Perrett. The NRL Bunker ruled insufficient evidence to overrule the refs call of a try in checking if Trbojevic was held up. Wright converted from in front for a 16-0 lead after 34 minutes.

2nd Half

The Sea Eagles extended the lead to 20-0 when full-back Tom Trbojevic scored two minutes after half-time. The full-back made a break down the left flank before being tackled. A quick play the ball and a pass from Kelly saw Trbojevic score. Wright converted for a 22-0 lead.

A nice inside pass from Cherry-Evans saw Sironen bump off Penrith captain and hooker Peter Wallace to score next to the posts. Wright converted the try for a 28-0 lead after 56 minutes.

The Panthers got on the board in the 77th minute with a try to five-eighth Tyrone May. Nathan Cleary converted the try for the 28-6 scoreline.

Penrith scored in the final seconds to prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard. Cleary converted for the 28-12 scoreline.