Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles vs Penrith Panthers: 5 things we learned

The Sea Eagles proved far too good for a lacklustre Panthers outfit on the cusp of the NRL finals, but what did we learn on the night?

At 28-0, there were plenty of Penrith fans pulling out the calculators to work out just how much they could afford to lose by without dropping out of the top eight. But with two late tries, the Panthers finished a torrid night on the northern beaches against a Manly side distinctly more clinical than the last time these two sides met.

  1. 1 Sea Eagles took their chances

    Manly fans blamed the officials for their defeat in the last meeting between the sides, completely overlooking their inability to finish out sets and score points in a tight contest.

    This time, the Sea Eagles had no such concerns, breezing out to a 28-0 lead inside 55 minutes to clinch the two points.

    Trent Barrett did his best to remind the officials about the lopsided penalty count in midweek and while it was justified on that occasion, Barrett's words may have played some part.  The whistles were heard far less frequently, with both sides getting just six penalties each.

  2. 2 Tackling the difference

    The Panthers were forced to make a total of 403 tackles, some 108 more than their opponents on the night.

    Penrith scored two late tries, belying their fatigue as a factor in the game, but much more of that can be put down to the fact the Sea Eagles potentially lifted the foot off the accelerator as the game wound down.

    Defensively, the Panthers were asked to get through a mountain of work, with Peter Wallace topping the stat sheets with 42 tackles while James Tamou (36), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (34) and James Fisher-Harris (30) all completed their fair share.

  3. 3 The 'Turbo' brothers turn it on

    For a long time, the talk around the northern beaches was of the talent Trbojevic brothers and how they were going to take the league by storm. The rest of the league has been forced to take notice as Tom and Jake perform week in, week out for Manly.

    On a night where they said farewell to club legends like Brett Stewart, the Brookvale crowd was treated to a masterclass performance from another star fullback as Tom racked up 250m for the night. His brother Jake, already a New South Wales Origin representative, led the Sea Eagles' charge through the middle of the ruck.

    The future at Manly is secure and bright with the Trbojevic brothers locked in.

  4. 4 Panthers struggle to deal with off-field questions

    The rumours that Matt Moylan is looking to leave Penrith for another NRL club may well turn out to be false. But the way that the Panters were so easily distracted by the rumours and turmoil was concerning.

    Whether there is any credence to the rumour that the young skipper is looking to work his way out of the club or not is almost irrelevant, given how directionless and flat the Panthers looked last night.

    Anthony Griffin rightly didn't comment on the speculation but claimed it had no effect on his team's preparation for the game. But with such a young, impressionable squad, it's hard to imagine that talk of their captain wanting to leave could have no impact whatsoever. It certainly looked like it did in their performance.

  5. 5 Kelly back to winning ways

    It wasn't all that long ago that Brian Kelly was being showered with praise and had people tipping him as a future representative winger. He spent some time back with the reserves but was back to his best against the Panthers last night.

    The 21-year-old earned a reprieve following the season-ending injury to Brad Parker and looked sensational. He took advantage of plenty of defensive indecision from Panthers centre Waqa Blake to grab two try assists.

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Daniel Lang

Rugby League & Cricket editor at RealSport.

Daniel is a passionate advocate for the game of rugby league and the development of the sport across the world and, as such, writes with a zeal and determination to spread the gospel of the game.

A huge fan of cricket, football, NFL, Tennis and Supercar racing in Australia, Daniel can quickly find himself a casual fan of just about any sport after putting his mind to watching it.

Daniel is also one-half of the hugely successful podcast 'Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach' where he talks all things Panthers Weekly while he also hosts the current affairs show 'the Strawbs Show' and the 'Summer of Cricket with Strawbs & Shnuu' as well as appearing on the Sydney FC covering 'Nothing But Blue Skies' podcast occasionally.