Classy Panthers outclass Roosters
The final piece of the puzzle has arrived at the Penrith Panthers. James Maloney's tenure at his sixth NRL club is underway after a cameo appearance in his side's 30-18 trial victory over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.
With superstar Roosters recruit James Tedesco quarantined trying to overcome a case of the mumps and new No.7 Cooper Cronk watching on from the sidelines at Panthers Stadium, this was never going to be the official unveiling of the 2018 premiership favourites.
But it was the first look at Penrith's new halves combination, as Maloney and Nathan Cleary began laying the foundation for the new season.
At almost the exact time Matt Moylan launched his Sharks career in a trial against the Manly Sea Eagles at Cronulla, his Panthers replacement, Maloney, kickstarted his time at the foot of the mountains.
It was brief, but in 23 minutes Penrith saw a glimpse of why Phil Gould was so desperate to lure him to the foot of the mountains to add some experience to a football team crying for some composure to compliment the raw and young talent.
The main highlight was a cut-out pass leading to a four-pointer to winger Maiko Sivo in the opening quarter of the match.
While it was hardly an opportunity for a combination to gel, Cleary picked up where he left last season in a classy opening 40 minutes that included setting up a long rang try to Tyrone Peachey.
Earlier in the match Peachey was on the receiving end of a brutal fend from Roosters centre Joseph Manu, who pushed off him to score the first try of the match.
Paul Momirovski scored the Roosters' second try of the opening half, but four-pointers to Moses Leota and hooker Wayde Egan saw the Panthers head into the sheds with a 20-10 half time buffer.
With many of the big name players not returning for the second half, the Roosters managed to score first through Reece Robinson, who crossed in the corner to reduce the margin to six points.
The Panthers hit straight back through the magic of Jerome Luai, whose dazzling footwork and deft touch with the boot allowed Sivo to score his second try of the night.
Tom Eisenhuth, the cousing of Wests Tigers forward Matt Eisenhuth, scored the next try for the Panthers before the Roosters got one back on the stroke of full time.