A gallant Manly Warringah Sea Eagles went down 26-20 to the Penrith Panthers at Lottoland today in round four of the NSWRL Jersey Flegg Cup.
It was a spirited performance by the Sea Eagles who were searching for their first win against the undefeated Panthers.
Penrith opened the scoring in the second minute after winger Ethan Clark-Wood ran onto a well-placed grubber kick to beat Manly full- back Flynn Angles-Corke to score. Five-eighth Niwhai Puru missed the conversion from the sideline for a 4-0 scoreline.
Two consecutive penalties for Manly saw them in good field position, only for Penrith’s centre Vito Tevaga to put in a big defensive effort, forcing an error 15 metres out from his own line.
An excellent 40/20 kick from Manly brought them down into the Panthers’ territory yet again. They went close before forcing another repeat set through halfback Zane Harris.
Harris was influential with the boot again, putting a nice grubber kick through which sat up well in goal, as lock Faleata Iosefa ran through to dive on the ball and ground it for a try in the 14th minute. Harris kicked the conversion from in front to give Manly a 6-4 lead.
Five minutes later, Penrith second-rower Bradley Fearnley crashed through a hole in the line off hooker Luke Sommerton to score. Puru converted to give the visitors a 10-6 lead.
Manly leaked an easy try when Puru put a chip over the top for forward Mavrik Geyer to pluck the ball out of the air to dive over for. Puru made the conversion to extend the lead to 16-6 which they took into half-time.
The first five minutes of the second half brought a handful of errors and penalties on both sides. Penrith went close to diving over in the 42nd minute through Clark-Wood, but was taken out by his opposing winger Raymon Vaega in a close encounter.
Manly hit back with a try to centre Daniel Ala two minutes later. Harris did well to hold up two defenders and drag in the winger before throwing a big pass out to Ala, who outpaced the winger and fullback to dive over in the corner. Harris missed the conversion for a 16-10 scoreline.
In quick succession, Manly strolled downfield and scored again in the 46th minute when forward Callan Burgess broke through the line and ran away to score an amazing team try.
In the lead up to the try, centre Keegan Turner had a big break in play to get his side in good field position. Harris nailed the conversion from the sideline to level the game at 16-all.
Penrith replied with an amazing try of their own when halfback Hayden Bonanno caught a poor-placed kick before racing 90 metres downfield to grab the lead for his side four minutes later. Puru converted to bring the score to 22-1 in favour of the visitors.
Harris, who already proved himself earlier in the match with his kicking game, stepped up again with a well-placed kick, breaking out of the scrum and kicking the ball through early for Vaega, who beat the fullback to score in the 55th minute. Harris missed the conversion for a 22-20 scoreline.
Penrith had their chances to potentially take their lead back to eight points, with two separate occasions in the final ten minutes. Manly remained strong in defence to hold them out with Turner putting a big shot on his opposite winger in order to take him over the line.
The Panthers sealed victory when lock Hohepa Puru ran the ball off an outside-inside play, crashing over to score for his side. His brother, Niwhai Puru, missed the conversion to take the score to 26-20.
The Sea Eagles play the Victoria Thunderbolts at Lottoland on Saturday, April 10, at 2pm.