Penrith have finished 2013 on a high with a 38-26 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
Manly decided to rest several of their starters including Brett Stewart and Brenton Lawrence. It was the young winger who came in, Clint Gutherson who opened the scoring after the classic Manly backline play.
David Williams got in the act for the Sea Eagles second after the defense forced an errant pass allowing him to streak away for an 80 metre try closing the gap on David Simmons for top try-scorer.
The Manly attacking machine clicked into gear in the opening half an hour with Daly Cherry-Evans steering the side around. He showed his running ability with a solo effort that sliced open the Panthers defense.
They may be leaving at the end of season 2013 but Lachlan Coote and Luke Walsh combined to open the Panthers account. Walsh kicking for his fullback who gave him the return ball for the score.
James Segeyaro would be able to sell ice to an eskimo with how many defenders he fools every week. The defense rushed up on the hooker and he dummied to dive over to reduce the gap to 16-12 going into halftime.
Penrith opened the second half much brighter marching downfield in the first set and allowing winger James Roberts to produce a superman effort to give Penrith the lead.
Manly would lean on their experienced hands to get themselves back into the lead as Matt Ballin took it down the shortside to send Steve Matai in to wrest the lead away from the visitors.
You would be mistaken to think that Penrith were the side going into the semi finals as another of the players leaving crossed.
Once again Luke Walsh was involved using slight of hand to send Clint Newton charging away for a TRY to swing the lead again.
Luke Walsh added a penalty goal to stretch the lead out to six with ten minutes left in the contest. Penrith were looking to finish the season on a high while Manly want momentum heading into the finals series.
The home side showed they would be a thorn in the side of any side in the finals series. Following a spill from Josh Mansour, Jamie Lyon drew his defender and sent David Williams away for his 19th try of the season to draw level with David Simmons and the Panthers. Manly hoped to break the resistance of the visitors.
Panthers had their resistance bent but not broken as they scored twice in the final five minutes to send all the leaving players out on a high.
First it was the harlem globetrotter style passes taking them from left to right before Luke Walsh kicked for Dean Whare to walk the winning try in. Mose Masoe put the icing on the cake with a simple charging run to put the final scoreline out to 38 points to 26.
The victory will be some consolation for a Panthers side heading into their off season while Manly will travel to Allianz Stadium next Saturday night to face minor premiers, Sydney Roosters.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26 Penrith Panthers 38
Venue: Brookvale Oval
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16-12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Luke Walsh
2 points - Mose Masoe
1 point - Jamie Lyon
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (26)
Tries: Daly Cherry-Evans, Clint Gutherson, David Williams (2), Steve Matai
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (3/5)
PENRITH PANTHERS (38)
Tries: Luke Walsh, James Segeyaro, Josh Mansour, Clint Newton, Dean Whare, Mose Masoe
Conversions: Luke Walsh (5/5), Clint Newton (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Luke Walsh (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Sea Eagles: 1. Peta Hiku 19. Clint Gutherson 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 17. George Rose 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brent Kite 11. David Gower 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart
Interchange: 2. Tom Symonds 15. James Hasson 14. Richie Fa'aoso 21. Jake Trbojevic
Panthers: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Josh Mansour 3. Brad Tighe 4. Dean Whare 5. David Simmons 6. Isaac John 7. Luke Walsh 8. Sam McKendry 9. Kevin Kingston (c) 10. Nigel Plum 11. Lewis Brown 12. Sika Manu 13. Ryan Simpkins
Interchange 14. James Segeyaro 15. Clint Newton 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Mose Masoe
MAN: Some mass changes for the home side, Clint Gutherson and Jake Trbojevic will make their DEBUT today. The former on the wing in place of Tom Symonds and the other on the bench. George Rose starts at prop in place of Brenton Lawrence with Tom Symonds going to the bench.
PEN: No changes they are 1-17.
Daly Cherry-Evans kicks a 40/20.
Perfect placement from Cherry-Evans there getting the 40/20.
Scored by Clint Gutherson. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
It's a play Manly use often just the personnel changed. Matai to Hiku to Gutherson who just had to sprint to the line for his first NRL TRY. Jamie Lyon from the sideline pushes it wide left.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 4-0
Scored by David Williams. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Nothing wrong with it, David Williams swooped on a loose pass as Penrith pushed one pass too many. He evaded Lewis Brown and the rest was history. An easier conversion for Lyon and he slots it.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10-0
Scored by Daly Cherry-Evans. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Cherry-Evans feigned to his defenders went himself and the defense opened like Sydney Heads allowing him to slice through for the TRY. Lyon from mid-range on the right puts it over.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16-0
Scored by Luke Walsh. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
That was a good farewell play for Coote and Walsh. Walsh slides a grubber through for Coote who flicks it back to the half for the points. Walsh converts his own try.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16-6
Scored by James Segeyaro. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
He's made a career of this James Segeyaro. He saw the defence coming up, dummied and TRY. Penrith are back into the contest here. Walsh converts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16-12
Scored by Josh Mansour. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Wingers are amazing these days, Mansour got the cut-out pass and just eyed the try-line and got there despite the attention of Jamie Lyon. Luke Walsh has a kick to give Penrith the lead here.. he steps up and swings it inside the uprights!
Penrith Panthers 18-16
Scored by Steve Matai. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
Quick hands down the shortside sent Gutherson tip-toeing down the sideline, he found Matai who slams the ball down! Lyon from the sideline was swinging in but hit the upright.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20-18
Scored by Clint Newton. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Luke Walsh created that with his slight of hand - he feigned to go left but went inside for Newton to crash over! Walsh converts and the Panthers are four points ahead!
Penrith Panthers 24-20
Penalty goal attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Walsh pilots it through to make it six the difference.
Penrith Panthers 26-20
Scored by David Williams. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Nothing wrong with it, Jamie Lyondrew his defender and put Williams in to draw level with David Simmons in the top try-scoring stakes. Jamie Lyon with the kick to lock us up put it straight over the black dot.
Scored by Dean Whare. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Penrith threw about five hail mary passes in that play - Luke Walsh knew where to go though, he saw Dean Whare unmarked and kicked it to his chest for the possible match winner! Luke Walsh converts.
Penrith Panthers 32-26
Scored by Mose Masoe. Conversion attempt by Clint Newton successful.
There is a farewell gift for Masoe! He charged onto the ball and wasn't going to be stopped before he slammed the ball down. Clint Newton converts his farewell kick. FULLTIME
Penrith Panthers 38-26