The Penrith Panthers have once again showed the side is the real deal in 2020 with a dominant 42-12 thrashing of the Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland.
Previously known at Fortress Brookie, the Panthers treated the Sea Eagles as play things as they ran away with a dominant victory.
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Although injuries hit both sides, the main damage was done on the scoreboard.
In just his second game, Panthers winger scored twice — taking his career tally to six — including an acrobatic effort in the corner for the second try which led to a hamstring tweak and an early end to his night 25 minutes into the game.
Post match, Yvonne Sampson said the try “defies logic and gravity and physics” in the insane try.
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But once again it was halfback Nathan Cleary who has gone to a new level in 2020.
For anyone who questioned Cleary’s credentials despite being a NSW Blues Origin halfback, the praise came in thick and fast for the 22-year-old with even his Queensland counterpart and Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans piling on the plaudits.
“He was fantastic tonight,” Cherry-Evans said on Fox League. “He led the Panthers perfectly tonight. Not many blemishes in his game I can think of tonight. Certainly enjoy the individual battles but Nath certainly walks away with the points tonight.”
It was kind praise from the incumbent Queensland Origin halfback for the 2019 NSW Origin half, especially considering the tough assessment of his own team.
“It would be easy to blame the injuries but that was pretty ordinary from us, really disappointing to walk off with a scoreline like that. I certainly didn’t see it coming and we’re back to the drawing board again,” he told Fox League.
“You only have to look back at the last couple of weeks and you see the willingness and resilience we showed in our tryline defence. Two steps forward, one step back tonight, it’s an attitude thing, it’s disappointing.”
Nathan Cleary had the ball on a string against the Sea Eagles.Source:Getty Images
Former Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould was quick to tweet after full-time as the praise flooded in.
“Big win by Panthers at Brookvale. Not many teams have done that to Manly on their home ground throughout the years. Very fit. Skilful. Outstanding ball control. Hardly an error all night. Nathan Cleary 10/10 performance. Manly tried hard, but Injuries are mounting up,” he wrote.
Nathan cleary is on 🔥 #NRLManlyPanthers
@PenrithPanthers unreal side. So many points. Nathan Cleary in serious form. Only possible knock on kid is his hair. They’ll meet🐔🐔in GF …
Try assist. Involvement in another try. 40/20. Recovered a kick for a set restart. Goal from the sideline. Another conversion.
Fair last 5 minutes from Cleary.
The Panthers were pretty happy.Source:Getty Images
While post-match Panthers captain James Tamou said he was “banged up” after the game, the Panthers continued their club best start to the season, running in four tries before Manly’s Jake Trbojevic crossed for the Sea Eagles first try in the 33rd minute.
The side had no answers as Cleary kicked for himself for the next try to essentially shut-out the game, despite Jorge Taufua’s 56th minute try, with Brent Naden and Api Koroisau closing out the victory.
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