A barnstorming performance from replacement second rower Liam Martin has helped the Penrith Panthers defeat the Manly Sea Eagles, 15-12, in front of 7,981 supporters at Panthers Stadium.
Called into the squad on game day with Viliame Kikau unavailable due to illness, Martin, playing just his sixth game, was involved in everything including the match-winning try, to help the Panthers record back-to-back wins for the first time in 2019.
With both sides feeling each other out during the opening exchanges, the Panthers looked to post first points after 16 minutes through Mitch Kenny, elevated into the starting side at hooker, only for the bunker to deem an obstruction in the lead up.
Taking a 2-0 lead via a James Maloney penalty goal midway through the first half, a bullocking run in the next set from Martin sent fullback Dylan Edwards underneath the posts for his second try of the season in the 22nd minute.
Threatening to post more tries with Maloney and halves partner Jarome Luai causing the Sea Eagles plenty of headaches, a 40-metre field goal from Maloney on the stroke of halftime sent the Panthers to the sheds up 9-0.
Resuming play with both teams aiming up in defence, tempers flared in the 51st minute after a high shot on Brian To'o resulted in a fracas leading to Jack Gosweiski and Jarome Luai spending ten minutes in the sin bin to calm proceedings.
Getting out to a 15-0 lead after Martin latched onto a spilt ball from Brendan Elliot in-goal with 15 minutes left on the clock, the Panthers looked to have the match in their keeping only for the Sea Eagles to rally a late comeback.
Posting their first try of the evening in the 70th minute through replacement hooker Manase Fainu, young playmaker Cade Cust set up a grandstand finish with his maiden NRL try in the 76th minute, yet despite a last-gasp bomb from Kane Elgey, the Panthers managed to hold on for a much-deserved victory at home.
Next week, the Panthers host the Roosters on Sunday afternoon, while the Sea Eagles travel to Townsville on Saturday night to face the Cowboys.