Manly Warringah Sea Eagles turned in a dominant performance to beat the Penrith Panthers 44-16 at Lottoland today in round eight of the NSWRL Harold Matthews Cup.
Both teams went into the match undefeated in five matches but it was the Sea Eagles who moved to the top of the ladder with a superb attacking effort in their finest victory of the season under Coach Adam McEwan.
With the Manly pack paving the way, it allowed the likes of five-eighth Latu Fainu and centre/captain Josh Feledy to run riot in a great team performance.
Manly opened the scoring in the second minute with a fine break in play after talented five-eighth Latu Fainu raced away from 40 metres out to outpace the fullback to score. Hooker Ollie Cummins missed the conversion for a 4-0 scoreline.
Penrith retaliated by breaking downfield through fullback Liam Ison, who ran hard at his opposing fullback before shifting it to the hooker. The Sea Eagles were left a man short after centre Maxwell Taotua was sent to the sin-bin for holding down Billy Scott five metres out from Manly’s tryline.
The Panthers used their number advantage by taking the ball down the left edge with backrower Harrison Hassett crashing over in the corner in the eighth minute. Halfback Tyler Bunting missed the conversion to level the score at 4-4.
The Sea Eagles bounced back, with another sensational run from Fainu. The five-eighth broke through the line and brushed past a number of players before handing it to captain Josh Feledy who dived under the posts eight minutes later. Cummins converted the try to make the score 10-4.
Manly second rower Dylan Coutts found the line in the 20th minute, catching the ball off halfback Alfred Ah Chong and fending a defender away before carrying two players over to score. Cummins missed the conversion for a 14-4 lead.
Fainu was influential with his kicking game, chipping the ball to the right side of the posts as the Manly defenders pressured the Panthers to get a repeat set.
The advantage continued to sway for the Sea Eagles, as forward Mitchell Taotua crashed over with three minutes to play. Cummins converted to give Manly a handy 20-4 lead at half-time.
The Sea Eagles opened the second half flying with the Fainu brothers linking up in the 33rd minute. Latu ran the ball at the line before popping the ball inside to prop Samuela who stretched out to score underneath the posts. Cummins converted to make the score 26-4.
From the kick-off, Feledy outpaced the defenders down the left edge before stepping past the fullback to race away to score a blistering try two minutes later. Cummins converted for a 32-4 lead.
A deflected kick saw yet another opportunity for the Sea Eagles. Ah Chong put a bomb up, which bounced off the Panthers’ fullback into the direction of fullback Lehi Hopoate, to score a freakish try in the 39th minute. Cummins converted the try to extend the lead to 38-4.
Manly continued to dominate as a banana kick from the left side of the field rolled into Penrith’s in-goal, resulting in a try with 12 minutes remaining.
The ball bobbled past the Panthers' fullback as Ah Chong dived on the ball to score his side's eighth try. Cummins converted to make the score 44-4.
Penrith grabbed a consolation try in the 51st minute through forward Jenson Tuaoi, who wrestled over to score under the posts. Bunting made the conversion to bring the score to 44-10.
The Panthers grabbed another try, scoring on the right edge with four minutes to play. Second rower Jermaine McEwen scored as Bunting converted for a 44-16 scoreline.
The Sea Eagles travel to Mascot Oval to play the St George Dragons on Friday April 2nd, at 11.30am.