Matai double sees Manly down Penrith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matai double sees Manly down Penrith

Joe Barton 22/04/2011 11:37:08 PM Comments (0)

Steve Matai put his hand up for New Zealand Test selection with a barnstorming two-try effort in Manly's 22-16 NRL victory over Penrith at Brookvale Oval on Friday night.

While Matai scored the tries, his efforts were also supported by another fine performance from young Manly fullback Will Hopoate, again filling in for the injured Brett Stewart, who has missed the past four rounds with a hamstring injury.

Hopoate thrilled the crowd of 14,623 with a series of impressive plays, including throwing a perfect cut-out pass for Matai's second try in the 46th minute and a 40 metre kick-return four minutes later.

Matai, and Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran, did their Kiwi chances no harm with confident games ahead of the May 6 Test against Australia at Skilled Park.

The win rockets the Sea Eagles into the top four for the first time this season and extends their winning streak to three matches.

Manly were not always in control, with Penrith dominating both possession and field position in the opening 20 minutes.

Only dogged goal line defence from the Sea Eagles stopped the Panthers from jumping out to a healthy lead.

The home team opened the scoring in the 16th minute after a brilliant Jamie Lyon flick pass fooled Penrith duo Michael Jennings and David Simmons before finding the hands of winger Michael Oldfield, who tiptoed the sideline and crossed for an unconverted try in the corner.

They surged further ahead in the 29th minute, taking advantage of a Sandor Earl error, with Foran taking the ball from the scrum and sending Matai in for a 10-0 lead.

A penalty infringement by the Panthers at the play-the-ball in the 69th minute allowed Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans to extend the lead to 18-4 through a penalty goal.

In the 71st minute, Manly iced the match when Matai passed up the chance of a hattrick by passing to winger Michael Robertson while he was over the tryline.

Consolation tries to Timana Tahu and Nigel Plum, on top of Simmons' try right before halftime, ensured the score was respectable for Penrith.

Manly coach Des Hasler jokingly scoffed when asked about Hopoate's outstanding form.

"I don't have to talk about him do I? Surely you've seen the game, what's there to talk about?" he said.

"He did some great things out there."

Hasler confirmed that talks with Hopoate's management were well advanced.

"We've had really good discussions with Will's management ... we're confident."

Lyon was equally full of praise of the son of Manly premiership-winner John Hopoate.

"He's confident. He's made of the right stuff and he's going to be around for a long time," he said.

"Hopefully we can keep him for a few years yet."

Panthers coach Matt Elliott lamented his sides inability to take advantage of their glut of possession in the first half - and admitted things needed to change for a side that, should results go against them, could slide to 16th by the end of the round.

"Pay tremendous credit to Manly's goal line defence, but we just can't quite get across the line or get the ball down across the line," the under pressure coach said.

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