Jennings on fire as Panthers maul Chooks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jennings on fire as Panthers maul Chooks

By Ed Jackson 23/05/2009 11:05:34 PM Comments (0)

Penrith flier Michael Jennings has sent an emphatic message to NSW Origin selectors with a second-half hat-trick in the Panthers' 48-6 NRL thrashing of the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.

The centre had 8,515 fans at CUA Stadium out of their seats with three brilliant individual efforts, including a length-of-the-field special, as the Roosters slumped to their heaviest ever defeat against the Panthers.

The eight-tries-to-one victory was the Panthers' fourth straight win and consolidates their top eight position, but defeat compounds the Roosters' woes, with only NRL crisis club Cronulla sitting below them on the ladder.

The teams exchanged tries in the opening 20 minutes with Frank Pritchard opening the scoring before Roosters youngster Ben Jones replied.

But from that point it was one-way traffic as Roosters coach Brad Fittler's plan to play skipper Braith Anasta at fullback backfired spectacularly.

Anasta spilt two bombs for Wade Graham to score a double and when another Blues hopeful Luke Lewis went over with seconds remaining the score was 22-6 at the break.

Jennings' magnificent treble and a five-star display by young fullback Lachlan Coote highlighted the second-half.

Coote scored one try, created another for Shane Elford and brought the crowd to their feet when he brought down rampaging Willie Mason in a one-on-one tackle as the prop bore down on the line.

Only an injury scare to Lewis soured the win, but early reports suggested he'd suffered nothing more than a stinger to his right shoulder before coming off in the 57th minute and he should be clear for Origin selection on Monday.

Queensland Origin fans will also have a nervous wait with Nate Myles also under an injury cloud after appearing to damage a shoulder in a first-half tackle.

Fittler said he would have to wait and get a doctor's report before knowing the full extent of any damage.

Panthers skipper Petero Civoniceva tipped both Lewis and Jennings to be lining up against him when he takes the field for Queensland in next month's State of Origin opener.

After calling Lewis the "complete footballer", Civoniceva went on to say he had no doubt Jennings has what it takes to succeed at representative level.

"He's an excitement machine," the veteran prop said.

"Every time he touches the ball you can just hear the excitement in the crowd and he's going to make something and I've no doubt that you put him in a State of Origin arena, he'd play some fantastic football."

Elliott backed Civoniceva's claims and quashed any suggestions Jennings' defensive game wasn't up to Origin footy.

"He didn't have a great defensive game last week, it was the first time that he's had that," Elliott said.

"He's not only an excitement machine, he's someone who loves his footy and works really hard on his game so ... I'm a Queenslander so I hope they don't pick him."

A disappointed Fittler said he had tried to create a spark in his players with his positional changes pre-match, such as the decision to move Anasta to fullback.

But Anasta said "silly" decisions by players were the main reasons behind the Roosters' poor form.

"We're just playing some silly football, making errors, we're not getting in the arm wrestle at all, we're sort of not fighting to win that territory we're just trying to do it without working hard," he said.

"Just way too many errors."

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