Sea Eagles down Panthers 34-16 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sea Eagles down Panthers 34-16

By Liam Fitzgibbon 06/09/2008 07:29:30 PM Comments (0)

Manly boosted their NRL minor premiership hopes but still left the door open for Melbourne to reclaim it after an unconvincing 34-16 win over Penrith at CUA Stadium on Saturday night.

The Sea Eagles looked set to run away with the game after leading 18-6 midway through the first half but the Panthers remained in contention for most of the match despite the fact their season was already over.

The result means the Storm need to beat South Sydney by more than 26 points on Sunday night to claim back-to-back minor premierships.

Winger David Williams scored twice for the Sea Eagles while Steve Menzies, brothers Glenn and Brett Stewart and centre Steve Bell also had four-pointers in slippery conditions.

The Panthers, who were without Luke Lewis due to a hamstring strain, scored through Tony Puletua, Paul Aiton and Nathan Smith in a gutsy performance in front of little more than 6000 fans.

Manly's win guaranteed a top-two finish but the indifferent performance would give coach Des Hasler plenty to think about heading into next weekend's home final.

The Panthers opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Puletua, in his last NRL match, strolled through an attempted tackle from Menzies.

The veteran backrower made amends three minutes later, however, when he crossed out wide and Manly took the lead on 14 minutes through Williams after Bell made a break on the halfway line.

Williams grabbed his second in the 25th minute, intercepting a woeful Nathan Smith ball and running 60 metres to score, but the Panthers kept themselves in the game when interchange hooker Aiton dived over from dummy half to make it 18-12 at the break.

Lock Smith had the Panthers back within two just after halftime after Rooney had batted back a Jarrod Sammut cross-field kick, but Michael Gordon's attempted conversion hit the upright.

Glenn Stewart gave the Sea Eagles some breathing space when he crashed over in the 54th minute and they put the result beyond doubt when brother Brett strode over with 12 on the clock.

With three minutes left, Bell strode through some soft defence to score what could be a crucial try in the minor premiership race.

The win would have offered some encouragement to Penrith coach Matthew Elliott, who has been subject to intense speculation he is on the verge of being sacked by the club.

It was the last game for outgoing Panthers veterans Tony Puletua (going to St Helens), Luke Priddis (St George Illawarra), Rhys Wesser (Souths) and Luke Rooney (Toulon).

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