Penrith Panthers – 11
Tries: David Simmons (18m), Dallin Watene Zelezniak (55m).
Goals: Matthew Moylan 0/2 conversions, 1/1 penalties, 1/1 field goals.
Manly Sea Eagles – 10
Tries: Brett Stewart (4m, 23m).
Goals: Jamie Lyon ½ conversions, Daly Cherry-Evans 0/1 field goals, Feleti Mateo 0/1 field goals.
This matchup was billed as the battle between two fantastic fullbacks, the veteran superstar Brett Stewart, the young prodigy Matthew Moylan, and each stamped their authority in a nail-biting contest with the Panthers escaping one point victors.
It was Stewart, the Prince of Brookvale, who would strike first for Manly, just four minutes into the contest, his 152nd try for the Sea Eagles. While Manly appeared to have plenty of venom, and looked to be in control of the game, Penrith would strike back in the 18th minute through David Simmons off a gorgeous ball from Moylan, but Stewart responded in the 23rd, once again crossing the line on the hallowed Brookvale turf. Manly going into the break leading 10-4, Stewart going into the break as the all-time leading try scorer in Manly history. After a half where they controlled much of the play, there was a sense that Manly hadn’t capitalised nearly enough on the advantage they had.
Manly spent much of the second half on the ropes. Clearly unable to maintain the level of intensity they offered in the first half, they looked ripe for the picking but the Panthers six errors in the half seemed to repeatedly come at inopportune times. The Panthers would repeatedly have Manly under the pump in their own end, only to commit an error, rinse and repeat until the 55th minute when Dallin Watene Zelezniak would finally score the first points of the second half. Moylan, tasked with his second difficult kick from the sideline of the night once again couldn’t make the extras, leaving the Panthers trailing 10-8. Just minutes later it was Moylan once again showing his wares shredding through the Manly defence before making a pass inside to Waqa Blake who spilled what would have been a certain try. The Panthers would finally draw level in the 72nd minute after a high tackle in front of the Manly posts served Moylan up with a gift two pointer.
As the clock ran down, once more it was the mercurial Moylan who stole the show, unleashing a booming 40 metre drop-goal to push the Panthers ahead by one. Manly weren’t without opportunity to level, but Daly Cherry-Evans and Feleti Mateo each failed to convert on drop goal opportunities in the dying minutes. An exhilarating end to what had been a rather mundane half.
The win left Penrith ninth on the ladder 10 rounds in, but their five win five loss record is shared by the sides five through ten on the ladder. Manly struggles continue, slumping to just three wins and seven losses, sharing the same record as the cellar dwelling Eels, with just a two point better points differential.
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