Forwards aim up in Panthers win
It was the victory that kept Penrith's season alive and in the finals race.
Anthony Griffin admitted Saturday's win over the Sea Eagles wasn't their best performance but one that could help kick-start a run of form with four home games on the trot coming up.
Controversy reigned supreme throughout the contest with Griffin's men enjoying a 14-4 penalty count in their favour and a first-half try decision to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak that went their way via the Bunker.
While Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett was vocal about the match officiating post-game, Griffin was not prepared to take the shine off his side's effort.
"I thought that one with 15 minutes to go was tinged with more controversy," Griffin said, in reference to a second-half no-try decision also involving Watene-Zelezniak.
"That is just the role of the dice from the way the game is officiated these days when it goes to the bunker.
"I think it all evens up in the end."
On a night that proved a battle in the middle of the paddock, the Panthers forward pack responded after a lacklustre performance last week against the Rabbitohs.
Trent Merrin (185 metres) and James Tamou (155 metres) got over the top of the Manly pack early, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard (124 metres) and Leilani Latu (162 metres) provided strong support through the middle."I thought they were very good and had to be," Griffin said.
"Manly are a quality side entrenched in the top eight and have been undefeated for five weeks so our middle had to be strong and they were.
"We didn't get a lot of things right, but the main thing was our attitude and effort was there."
Panthers skipper Matt Moylan was confident their first victory against a top-eight side in 2017 would lift the morale after a demoralising defeat to the Rabbitohs in Round 17.
"I think we bounced back pretty good, but we've still got a lot of work to do to play finals footy," Moylan said.
"We are going to have to keep working hard every week."
Griffin was adamant the heavy loss to the Rabbitohs was now all but behind them.
"Everyone in the club was disappointed with how that day panned out," Griffin said.
"It was a performance we weren't proud of and we didn't except."
With Parramatta knocking over the Melbourne Storm leading into their final bye of the regular season, the Panthers will remain four competition points behind the top eight on the Telstra Premiership ladder but can continue to put the pressure on the Eels and St George Illawarra in the coming weeks.
Equal with them on the ladder are the Warriors, who the Panthers will take on in six days' time at Mt Smart Stadium.
Penrith have won seven of the last nine games between the two, although they have lost their last two clashes in Auckland.