Panthers top Manly to stay unbeaten in NRL

·3-min read

Turns out an injection of Turbo can't beat a well-oiled machine.

Penrith overcame a serious challenge from Manly in Bathurst to claim a hard-fought 28-16 victory, extending their mighty unbeaten start to the NRL season to eight games.

The ladder leaders had to overcome another classy effort from Tom Trbojevic, who has sparked the Sea Eagles' resurgence since returning from injury two weeks ago, as he notched a team-high 191 run metres.

Manly's three tries - two of which involved their star fullback - were the most the Panthers have conceded this season.

But, led by star halfback Nathan Cleary and in-form winger Brian To'o, the 'home' side answered each Manly surge to keep their winning streak intact.

Not since Melbourne in 2012 had an NRL side been unbeaten after eight weeks of the season. The Storm, who defeated Penrith in last year's grand final, went on to lift the trophy that year.

Down 16-6 at halftime, the Sea Eagles drew within four when Daly Cherry-Evans fielded his own grubber that hit the post and cannoned off a chasing Trbojevic.

But Penrith answered through Tyrone May in the 57th minute.

Manly set up a grandstand finish when winger Jason Saab burned Dylan Edwards on a 60-metre run, only for Liam Martin to acrobatically tap back a grubber over the deadball line for Stephen Crichton to seal another Panthers victory.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary was pleased at the way his side dug themselves out of trouble in the second half, which at one stage included four straight sets on their line.

"I was definitely happy with our tryline defence in the second half," Cleary said.

"I wasn't happy how we came out of the sheds. I thought we lacked energy and intent. Manly certainly were the opposite and rightly so they got on top in that period.

"We scrambled our way, made some really big stops in that period."

The Sea Eagles drew first blood on a Reuben Garrick penalty goal, but their lead lasted just five minutes as the Panthers responded emphatically with two tries in as many sets.

The first was a contender for try of the season.

It began with Edwards fielding a kick on his 10-metre line, finding Jarome Luai, who ducked under a tackle, before To'o steamrolled Cherry-Evans and found Matt Burton, who kicked ahead for Edwards.

Not content with that long-range effort, the Panthers found more joy down the same edge three minutes later, with Luai firing a two-man cut-out pass for To'o.

It could've been three in a row if not for Trbojevic intercepting a James Fisher-Harris offload and sprinting 60 metres to score against the run of play.

But the Panthers took a 10-point lead at the break when Cleary put Martin through a hole untouched.

In a sour note for Penrith, Burton was put on report for high contact on Martin Taupau, while second-rower Kurt Capewell failed to finish the match due to a rib complaint.

"I was pleased with their effort - that's all you can ask," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"But we want to go to that next level. We've got to get more disciplined and stronger in certain parts, which I know we can."