Injuries strike as Panthers down Manly
A depleted Penrith side held on for a brave 22-12 victory over a similarly ravaged Manly side at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night – but lost star centre Jamal Idris to a possible ACL injury in the process.
Not only were both teams already carrying three-game losing streaks into the contest, but neither were willing to carry their wounded players.
Penrith captain Peter Wallace was forced out with a knee injury on match eve, as was counterpart Brett Stewart, who was held out by a groin problem.
But they couldn't avoid the injuries they suffered during the match.
First Manly rookie Tom Trbojevic came off in the 19th with a high ankle sprain, followed shortly after by forward Jesse Sene-Lefao hitting the showers early when he injured his AC joint.
The Panthers matched them for injuries in the second half when stand-in skipper Elijah Taylor limped off with a lower leg problem in 52nd. And then he too was joined Idris when he crumpled to the turf three minutes later.
However Idris's exit proved to be a turning point in the match, with the home side crossing for three tries within 12 minutes.
Not long after Idris limped off the field, fullback Matt Moylan combined with Josh Mansour for the second time of the night on a left side shift in the 57th.
Four minutes later rookie Waqa Blake steamed onto an Api Koroisau short ball for the first try of his career, before the premiership-winning Rabbitoh put the game beyond Manly's reach when he finished off an enterprising passage four minutes after that.
Sea Eagles centre Steve Matai got his side within 10 when he took an offload from Cheyse Blair in the 71st, but the Panthers held on for a much-needed victory.
"It was a tough game actually, a really tough game," said Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. "Obviously both sides were fairly keen to push hard for a win tonight. We understood what we were up for. Obviously losing Wall [Peter Wallace] yesterday, that was always going to be tough."
The hosts jumped out of the blocks in the third minute, when Moylan delivered a trademark cutout pass on a left-side shift that Mansour finished in the corner.
The visitors could've answered immediately when the Panthers failed to negotiate a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb in the 10th. But Taylor saved a certain try when he knocked the ball out of Kieran Foran's hands with the tryline in sight.
But it didn't take much longer for Foran to get his side across the stripe. The Eels-bound pivot finished off a third straight set with a neat dink into the in-goal for Justin Horo in the 24th to level the scores.
The Panthers blew a supreme opportunity to take a lead into half-time when Tyrone Peachey broke into the backfield in the 34th, but the utility dummied one too many times and failed to hit Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in support.
Instead it was the Sea Eagles – who completed 19 out of 22 sets in the first half – that took a two-point advantage into the break when Peta Hiku converted a 39th-minute penalty goal close to the uprights.
"It's very difficult I suppose when you've got forwards out in the centres. But that's the way it's been actually all this year. I don't think we've finished a game with the full 17, but yeah, it was difficult," Toovey said.
Penrith 22 (Josh Mansour 2, Waqa Blake, Api Koroisau tries; Matt Moylan 3 goals) def. Manly-Warringah 12 (Justin Horo, Steve Matai tries; Peta Hiku 2 goals). Crowd: 11,170. Half-time: 6-8.