Panthers run over Sea Eagles to keep top-four hopes alive
THE Panthers scored four tries in seven minutes to breathe life back into their NRL season as they completed a remarkable comeback to beat Manly 28-24 on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 24-6 with 12 minutes to play, Penrith scored four times in six sets.
The Sea Eagles' only touch of the ball in that time led to a Tom Trbojevic error that surrendered their lead by the 75th minute.
Crucially, the win moves the Panthers to fifth on the NRL ladder and within touching distance of the top four after it appeared they might finish the round as low as eighth had they suffered their fifth loss in six matches.
It also means the Wests Tigers will be six points out of the finals if the Warriors beat the Gold Coast on Sunday, with five games to play.
Panthers centre Waqa Blake sparked the comeback at Lottoland when he produced a one-handed falling offload for Josh Mansour to cross and make it 24-10.
Isaah Yeo then ensured the Panthers would keep the momentum when he forced his way over moments later, before Blake finished off a length-of-the-field movement in the set after the kick-off following a Viliame Kikau break.
The comeback was complete when Trbojevic fielded a James Maloney bomb, only to drop the ball in a Kikau tackle before Nathan Cleary scooped it up and scored.
Tyrone Peachey was also solid for Penrith in his first game at fullback, injecting himself into the action to put Dean Whare over for the Panthers' only first-half try.
The loss leaves Manly just two points clear of its first wooden spoon, and under serious pressure after Canterbury and North Queensland both won on Friday night.
Manly looked to have their second win over the Panthers in the bag following 12 minutes of brilliance from Brian Kelly after the Sea Eagles led 8-6 at half-time.
Busting through the midfield, he put Daly Cherry-Evans away for Manly's first after the break as the Sea Eagles continued to threaten Penrith on the edges.
The centre also bagged two tries of his own, the first from a Trbojevic pass and the second after a grubber-kick from the fullback sat up perfectly for him just before the dead-ball line.
But it mattered little as Penrith arrested its mid-season freefall and won for the fourth time this year after trailing at half-time.