Penrith officially the comeback kings
Penrith Panthers are officially the 2016 comeback kings having recorded the two single-biggest turnarounds this season.
In round three against the Broncos they trailed at Pepper Stadium 6-22 after 37 minutes and looked destined for a long night at the office. Debutante Te Maire Martin kicking the winning field goal at 23-22.
After 46 minutes Penrith looked gone when Manly’s Jorge Taufua scored in the corner to make it 24-4 to the home side. Panther fans turning off their TV sets shattered at their teams performance.
Manly comfortably held the ball for 70% of the first half but it was all Penrith in the second half as they clawed back the overall possession in favour of the Sea Eagles 55% to 45%.
Put into perspective, relying on halves pairing Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Cleary to orchestrate a comeback of that magnitude can only point to the best comeback in the clubs history since 2000 and that infamous 32-31 win over Wests Tigers.
Where to for Manly in 2016?
The old firm at Manly under Geoff Toovey or Des Hasler, or even Bob Fulton would never have let a side back into the game that easily at the fortress Brookvale Oval.
It’s staggering to think Manly are one win from five games at Brookvale this season and given that record they are no chance of playing finals footy in September.
Granted, they have Feleti Mateo, Isaac John, Marty Tapau, DCE, Jamie Lyon, Brenton Lawrence and Steve Matai on the sidelines through injury and suspension. Nate Myles set to be added to that list.
But is it an excuse considering Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Dylan Walker, Nate Myles and Lewis Brown were in the side? Someone had to step up and be counted yesterday in the final twenty when it should have been Penrith off their feet.
One shining light besides Walker was Matt Purcell, what a star in the making!
Trent Barrett has a tough initiation in his first NRL season as a rookie coach. Finals footy seems gone for the Eagles in 2016.
Dylan Walker sensational
There was nothing Dylan Walker could do wrong in the first fourty minutes.
After criticism of his performance in Origin I in a cameo that lasted less than ten minutes, it could have been an easy decision to axe him for Origin II.
But WOW! One of his halves of footy at club level saw him score twice including a speculator after it appeared the Sea Eagles last tackle option had broken down. He was ultra confident with the boot too, landing four from five as he filled in for Jamie Lyon.
We’ll know soon whether New South Wales give him another chance but on this game alone, well worth the punt.
Nathan Cleary the next best thing since Brad Fittler at Penrith?
On August 20 1989 Brad Fittler made his debut as a seventeen year old from the bench against Western Suburbs Magpies in a 37-0 victory.
Almost twenty-seven years on Nathan Cleary is now into his second game at the top level and already showing signs that he will follow a similar path as the Panther great.
‘Playing among the big men’ doesn’t phase ultra-cool Cleary who revived Penrith’s chances with a solo try fifteen minutes into the second half to put his side back in the game.
A rookie halfback could have panicked being so far behind. This wasn’t the case with Cleary. He stuck to his job and influenced Matt Moylan to get into the game as Penrith gained the upper hand.
This kid is special. Very special.
From the sheds
Nate Myles the biggest casualty with a knee injury which has kept him out of Origin II.
Penrith Panthers 31
Tries: Tyrone Peachey, Josh Mansour, Nathan Cleary, Leilani Latu, Peter Wallace, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Goals: Peter Wallace 3
Manly Sea Eagles 24
Tries: Dylan Walker 2, Tom Trbojevic, Jorge Taufua
Goals: Dylan Walker 4