Panthers v Sharks: Five key points
Penrith's captain curse ends, Heighington faces a nervous wait, and Simmons lifts the Panthers in more way than one. Five key points from Penrith's 26-18 win over the Sharks.
Report: Injury-hit Panthers overcome Sharks
Captain curse ends, for now
Peter Wallace. Jamie Soward. Brent Kite. Elijah Taylor. James Segeyaro didn't even get a chance to run down the tunnel. But if Lewis Brown wanted to get rid of the captaincy, then he better think of a good reason.
"No disrespect to 'Sharkie' (Brown)," said Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, "but we're starting to go down the list in terms of captains. [We] might have to keep him because he got the Man of the Match and we won the game."
Lewis revealed post-game that it was his first man-of-the-match award in his seven-year career thus far, and was honoured for it to happen on such an important occasion on the NRL calendar.
"I was pretty shocked to get it. Actually it's my first man of the match in the NRL. It's always nice," he said. "To come back into a game a week in which the NRL advertised very well, it means so much to us boys in both countries. It's good to see both countries unite together as one and share a moment like that. It's awesome."
Brown's a Blue seer, too
It was yet another sparkling performance from Penrith star Matt Moylan – he netted a try, try assist and two try-saving tackles – that drew rave reviews from his stand-in skipper. Late on Sunday night, the 23-year-old was selected as City's fullback for the Origin trial.
"Like Ivan said, each level he gets given, he takes it up," Brown said. "He's a confident kid, without being arrogant or anything. He's coming along in leaps and bounds. I see him in a blue jumper. But if he isn't, it's good for us. We'll keep him for the Origin period. He'll be up for the task I believe. He's like every player, he's learning each week and he's got some good strength that he can add to that Blues side."
Cleanskin Heighington faces a nervous wait
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan went into bat for veteran prop Chris Heighington who, along with co-captain Michael Ennis, was placed on report in the first half for an ugly lifting tackle on Jeremy Latimore.
"It didn't look good," Flanagan admitted. "But Chris Heighington has played 250 first grade games. It just goes to show, it's a contact sport. He's a cleanskin, his record is perfect. As I said, we'll have a look at it tomorrow. Chris is one of those players every mum would love to have. He's not dirty, he's a clean player, if the tackle's gone wrong, we'll go into it tomorrow."
Opposition coach Ivan Cleary said it wasn't a send-off offence, but might've changed his tune had Latimore suffered a serious injury.
"I don't think [it's a send-off]," he said. "I'm not against send-offs, but I think it's going to be something that's fairly obvious. I think he probably had every right to see... for example if Jeremy couldn't play on, but I don't know how they work. It was just one of those ones that went wrong. It looked a bit ugly, but I don't think that's a send-off."
Flanno's a believer in luck
Flanagan said the Panthers had received the "rub of the green" on many occasions throughout the afternoon – luck that they had ridden for part of the Sharks' three-game winning streak.
"There were some kicks that fell into their hands – even the last try. They've kicked it hard, Benny's gone for a catch and given them six again and they've scored on it. We've defended well and they've kicked and scored a try," he said.
"Not taking anything away from Penrith. I just thought the ball – when they passed the ball for the second try, Brown I think it was, I think it was a try – it bounces straight into the Penrith bloke's hands and it doesn't bounce for us.
"We've had that rub of the green the last couple of weeks so maybe it was time to turn and Penrith worked really hard to put themselves into the game and they got that rub of the green."
Old man Simmons lifts average age
Four of Penrith's back five on Sunday – Matt Moylan, George Jennings, Waqa Blake and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak – have an average age of just under 21.
"I was really keen to get Dave Simmons in the team because we've got to so many young outside backs, so it was important to lift the average age a bit," Cleary joked post-game.
In the unusual position of centre, Watene-Zelezniak led the Panthers with 157 metres, two try assists, four tackle breaks, two offloads, and two line breaks.
"He certainly was a threat in attack and came up with some good plays for us. One bad read in defence caused a try. The reality was we put him in a position that he's not comfortable with," Cleary said.
"I thought he did a fair job. He hasn't played there since Harold Matthews, he said, which is not that long ago."