Merrin: We've shown what we're capable of
Veteran forward Trent Merrin his challenged his young Panthers teammates to make Friday night's dominant 31-12 win over the Broncos the standard they are now judged by after stamping their credentials as a genuine finals contender.
Penrith moved back into the NRL Telstra Premiership's top eight after a rare win at Suncorp Stadium in which they took control in the opening 10 minutes of the match and never let the more fancied Broncos get within 12 points at any stage after their second try in the 13th minute.
Penrith have displayed a tendency to let opposition teams get the jump on them before launching audacious comebacks this season but halves Nathan Cleary and Bryce Cartwright struck the right balance on the back of some powerful runs by the forwards to shut the vastly more experienced Brisbane team out of the contest.
While he rejected the idea that the Panthers had come to Brisbane seeking to send a message to the rest of the competition, Merrin said that they now know what it takes to deliver a complete performance.
"The best thing about it is that we know what we're capable of doing," Merrin told NRL.com of the 19-point win.
"We've been beating ourselves the last few weeks and to be honest after tonight we know what we're capable of doing.
"Hopefully we get a grip of what went on tonight and we execute it week in and week out.
"It's pretty frustrating when you know that the nucleus is there and we don't execute the way that we know we can.
"We just proved tonight what we are capable of doing but it's not about proving things, it's about working hard for one another and getting the job done."
The Panthers' ninth win of the season was coach Anthony Griffin's eighth victory over Wayne Bennett-coached teams in 10 meetings.
Back at the stadium where he spent four seasons as Brisbane's head coach, Griffin said there was no extra pleasure in knocking over the coach who replaced him but plenty in seeing his players deliver in such an important clash.
"It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see the way they played tonight," Griffin said in the post-match press conference.
"It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see the way our guys are learning and starting to gel together.
"We've had a lot of changes this year from the side we started with and we've got a lot of experience on the sideline still so the team that's there at the moment is really starting to gel and it gave me a lot of satisfaction being able to see them go set-for-set with a quality side like that for 80 minutes."
A try in the final minute was just reward for Merrin in his 150th NRL game. The former Dragon ran for 249 metres and made 33 tackles in an 80-minute performance that had captain Matt Moylan giving high praise.
"He's a huge part of our side," Moylan said.
"He brings a lot of experience and his character and personality around the club brings everyone closer.
"He's a bit of a larrikin around training and he's good for the culture and the vibe we get around the club."