Sea Eagles v Panthers: Five key points

Manly and Penrith book a finals spot but it was a trio of Sea Eagles that turned it on as Trent Barrett's side powered through Penrith for a 28-12 victory at Lottoland.‌‌

Finals spots secured 

Both Manly and Penrith have wrapped up spots in the finals series for 2017 but will have left Lottoland feeling the complete opposite following the clash.

Manly displayed arguably their best all-round performance of the season and dominated the Panthers right from the beginning.

After saving their season against the Warriors, they'll now head into the first week of the finals with all the momentum.

Penrith avoided a potential sleepless night ahead with a strong finish to the encounter after suffering defeat by a margin of 37 points or less.

The Cowboys will now be sweating on the Bulldogs causing an upset to beat St George Illawarra on Sunday.

"It's a great for us to finish sixth and we've had to work really hard, particularly over the last month," Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett said.

"It was a real test of character for the side. I always knew it would come back. Those sort of performances will hold us in good stead."

Penrith's final quarter saves them

Penrith's strongest aspect of their game this season came to fruition when it was needed most – their final 20 minutes of a game.

Anthony Griffin's men have only conceded nine tries between the 60-80th minute mark of clashes this season – better than any other side by a long margin – and came up trumps at the latter stages once again despite Manly completely controlling the contest.

The signs looked worrying for the visitors trailing 28-0, but the Panthers kept Manly scoreless for the final 20 minutes and laid on two converted tries to kill off any chance of a finals knockout.

"We knew where we stood but we wanted a good performance going into next week no matter what," Panthers skipper Peter Wallace said.

"It was good how we fought back, we have to fix our start, [Manly] really jumped us."

 


Turbo brothers turn it on

Manly farewelled club legends Brett Stewart and Matt Ballin prior to the clash but the future showed how quickly the side have been able to move on under Trent Barrett.

Tom Trbojevic lit up Lottoland with a stirring 250-metre effort, while brother Jake led from the front to rattle in-form Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard early and got over the line for his ninth try of the season.

"[The farewell] was important for the whole club, they're special players that won a lot of premierships and built the culture that we've got," Barrett said.

"Now it's Cherry's job as captain and the Trbojevic brothers to carry that forward."

Moylan drama a potential distraction

With speculation Panthers skipper Matt Moylan could be on the outer at the foot of the mountains prior to the clash on Saturday night, the club will need to address the issue before heading into the finals.

Moylan was at Lottoland and watched on as his teammates warmed up on the field, however Griffin gave nothing away when asked about the situation.

"I'm not going to make a comment on that," he said.

"I meet with all my players and we'll deal with that in-house.

"It didn't [play] any part in our preparation."

Kelly bounces back to career best

Sea Eagles centre Brian Kelly has repaid the faith shown by Barrett with his strongest performance of the season.

Barrett dropped the 21-year-old after declaring he needed a rest following the side's 40-6 thumping to Melbourne, but a season-ending injury to Brad Parker proved a second calling.

Kelly stood up in-form Panthers centre Waqa Blake twice in the first half and ran career-high 163 metres with three line breaks and two try assists.