Panthers flex Holden Cup muscles
The Penrith Panthers have trounced the Roosters 50-4 in a clinical display between the Holden Cup's top two teams to confirm their status as undisputed premiership favourites.
Three Panthers crossed for doubles while halfback Nathan Cleary continued to show why he's regarded as one of the game's brightest young stars, playing a part in four of his side's tries and controlling the game with his right boot.
The Penrith No.7 had to lift after his halves partner Jarome Luai was forced from the field in the 24th minute with a leg injury, while the Roosters were forced to play without their own star No.6 Connor Watson who is set to make his NRL debut.
It took a while for the game to get going with both sides guilty of plenty of handling errors in the opening exchanges.
Cowen Epere went close for the Panthers in the 12th minute but lost control of the ball over the line with several defenders all over him.
It didn't take long for the defending premiers to strike though, and it was their in-form fullback that got them on the board.
A shallow clearing kick from Roosters dummy-half Grant Garvey gave the Panthers great field position, and five tackles later the Penrith No.1 swooped on an out-ball from Cleary to slice through for the game's first points.
The Panthers extended their lead nine minutes later with crafty hooker Wayde Egan barging over for his second try in as many weeks.
Some desperate Penrith defence denied both Bernard Lewis and Ryan King certain tries, before the Panthers juggernaut marched downfield to score their third try of the evening.
A Nathan Cleary bomb was allowed to bounce, with Liam Martin throwing a speculative floater for winger Ratu Tuisese to add to his hat-trick of tries from last week.
The Roosters started the second half brightly with Garvey making plenty of metres after picking off a pass from Cleary, but like the first 40 minutes, couldn't crack the line.
They should have fallen further behind in the 50th minute when Panthers centre Braidon Burns broke through, but with Tuisese unmarked on his outside, opted to dummy and was subsequently smashes by the cover defence.
It mattered little though as the high-flying Panthers ran in three tries in five minutes to kill off the contest inside an hour.
Prop forward Cowen Epere was the first to barge over just a minute after Burns' misstep, before Edwards leapt highest to claim an Edwards bomb to grab his second for the game.
The procession continued from the following set with Corey Waddell finding Tuisese to make it five tries in nine days, before Burns redeemed himself with a juggling effort to get his name on the board.
The right boot of Cleary continued to cause havoc for the Roosters' back three as a towering kick was spilled by Jake Steadman allowing Tyrone May to score the easiest try of his young career.
To their credit the young Roosters kept fighting until the end and were rewarded with a consolation try to Bernard Lewis in the 72nd thanks to a lofted ball from halfback Jesse Marschke.
The Panthers would have the last laugh though with May touching down for his second with the full-time siren blaring in the background, before Cleary put the icing on the cake with a sideline conversion to notch the half century.
Penrith now sits alone atop the NYC ladder after six straight wins and will take on the impressive Cronulla Sharks in a mouth-watering Holden Cup match-up on Sunday.
Panthers 50 (Dylan Edwards 2, Ratu Tuisese 2, Tyrone May 2, Wayde Egan, Cowen Epere, Braiden Burns, tries; Nathan Cleary 7 goals) defeated Roosters 4 (Bernard Lewis try) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 16-0 Panthers.