Martin pushes NRL claim in Panthers' trial win
Panthers five-eighth Te Maire Martin has put his fellow teammates on notice following his starring role in Penrith's come-from-behind 24-20 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Playing 60 minutes in the Pepper Stadium heat Martin had a hand in two tries and scored one himself just before half-time to cut back the Bulldogs' then 14-0 lead.
Coming up against experience campaigners such as Josh Jackson and Sam Kasiano, Martin thwarted the Bulldogs defence in the 38th minute, racing 40 metres down field to score and ensure Penrith entered the sheds only two points down.
It was a lead Martin would directly reverse two minutes into the second half when he sent Chris Smith over for one of the easiest tries he's ever likely to score.
One man Martin is challenging for a halves spot is Peter Wallace – the veteran halfback though appeared pleased to make it through proceedings unscathed, in his first taste of football since injuring his ACL late last season.
Bulldogs recruit Will Hopoate left the field with a jarred knee in the first half and while he didn't return, the injury isn't considered too serious at this stage.
Another man flirting with the halves in skipper Matt Moylan started his season with a whimper after dropping a towering kick 10 metres out from his own try-line in the 15th minute.
The Bulldogs capitalised on his error not even a minute later when Hopoate found his way to the try-line thanks to some handy lead-up work by Moses Mbye.
Moylan's eventual foray into the halves in the second quarter produced mixed results when he produced an average kick and pass in quick succession, before needing the assistance of a trainer after copping a big hit from Greg Eastwood.
Mbye was having no such problems as his opposite man though, and in the 26th minute raced through ordinary Penrith defence to help assist Kerrod Holland's first try in Bulldogs colours.
Three minutes later Panthers winger Josh Mansour followed his captain's earlier lead by dropping the ball 10 metres out from his own try-line. 30 seconds later, Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa darted over from dummy-half to make it 14-0.
Penrith eventually saved face in the final five minutes of the second quarter when Elijah Taylor crashed over from a James Segeyaro pass from dummy-half before Martin scored his long-range effort.
With both squads' fringe players taking over in the second half, Smith's try in the 42nd minute was quickly followed by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's efforts which extended Penrith's lead four minutes later.
The scorecards were levelled in the 68th minute when Bulldogs young gun Brad Abbey latched on to a Dane Chisholm cross-field kick to score.
Panther Josh Hall proved the match-winner though in the final two minutes, when the AFL convert crossed out wide to secure his side a late four-point victory.
Penrith Panthers 24 (Elijah Taylor, Te Maire Martin, Chris Smith, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Hall Tries; Matt Moylan 2 Goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 (Will Hopoate, Kerrod Holland, Michael Lichaa, Brad Abbey Tries; Moses Mbye, Brad Keighran goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: Bulldogs 14-12.