Origin star hobbles off as a To’o trio propels Penrith to classy win despite Talau’s four-try haul


Penrith and Manly went blow for blow in a Sunday afternoon stunner, set alight by the attack of two left edges and Origin stablemates who had form points to prove.

The class of the triple crown premiers came out on top in the 32-22 fixture, as discipline and fatigue brought down the Sea Eagles, who loomed early as the victors.

The first 30 minutes was a tale of trios. It was points galore in the first half, as Manly managed to stick with the Panthers even without Haumole Olakau’atu.

Olakau’atu, who made his Blues debut in the opening game of the series, trudged off in the 23rd minute in front of 20,101 spectators at BlueBet Stadium on Sunday with a suspected calf injury.

While the Tongan international initially kept warm for the rest of the first half on a stationary bike, Manly communicated after the halftime break that the back-rower would not return.

It remains unclear how serious the forward’s injury is, with Maguire due to name his squad for game two next Sunday.

To’o tallies up three

Three tries for Brian To’o and Tommy Talau prior to halftime, as the latter combined with Ben Trbojevic and Luke Brooks with plenty of success – it was enough to give opposing winger Sunia Turuva nightmares for the next month.

(Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Manly’s 12-4 lead lasted only six minutes as it was To’o’s turn to turn over the page from Wednesday night and cross the chalk for a second and third time. The post-metre weapon had 100 running metres before the 30th minute and went on to log 257 for the night.

To’o bounced back strongly after a disappointing Origin one performance, showing coach Maguire just why he was picked – especially when the pill goes his way.

Stand-in fullback Daine Laurie racked up a whopping 344, including 153 on kick returns.

Brooks biff with Luai costs Manly six-points

Reuben Garrick’s four missed conversion attempts took Manly out of contention after the 63rd minute, when a scuffle between Jarome Luai and Brooks divided the game moments before.

After the Panthers five-eighth was tackled by Ben Trbojevic, Luai rose after playing the ball and exchanged seeminly heated words with Brooks.

Brooks returned fire as the two entered a push and shove match, only to create a passage for Laurie to weave through and find Liam Henry in support, who ended up scoring untouched.

Daly Cherry-Evans was heard on referee Gerard Sutton’s mic after the bunker confirmed the try, saying ‘it was him (Luai) that started it’.

Fox League commentators Cooper Cronk and Andrew Voss were up in arms over the incident.

“There’s no way I can take that off Penrith. (Brooks) wants to go on with it. Common sense says that’s a try,” Voss said.

“Both Brooks and Luai were at it from the beginning. Hard to tell who started it and everyone else wanted to play,” Cronk added.

The tiff-up made for a mouth-watering final quarter of the contest, showcased by a hot potato try that put Turuva on the multiple-try list. The four-pointer was a close call, but an Isaah Yeo knock-on was ruled out by the higher powers.

Manly with some upside despite loss

A late NFL jink and turn from Jason Saab gave Manly some kind of hope heading into the final 10 minutes, but the powerhouse profile of Penrith had too much in hand, and a lead they would not concede.

While the loss was a tough result for Manly after such a hot start, coach Anthony Seibold’s side had plenty of positives.

Nathan Brown has more than paid off his train and trial contract and combined well with Jake Trbojevic to provide a second ball-playing middle.

Lehi Hopoate and Ben Trbojevic were attacking threats all night, but when Penrith complete 37 of 38 sets, there’s not much you can do to spark an upset.

The absence of Lachlan Croker may not seem drastic on face value, but the defensive efforts of the hooker are sorely missed, with Karl Lawton having to fill in and test his fitness.

The arrival of former Tiger Jake Simpkin should provide a new feel for the Sea Eagles out of the ruck.

What was that’ moments

If Manly did go on with the job and topple Penrith, Mitch Kenny would’ve been called into the stewards room, as he failed to dive on the pill after a dropout situation. It was a bizarre brain fade. Had the No.9 taken possession, he was a moral to cross the line.

Kenny instead tried to toe the ball forward, but was a mere five metres from the line. For a hooker who isn’t gifted with a long try tally, the hard-man will want that again and ask himself what was doing, when seeing the vision on replay.

Cherry-Evans was also pulled back twice for overstepping his mark when kicking for touch, but even a little cheekiness left Manly without a smile and competition points.

The Origin veteran was originally told to rekick after marching past the set mark by at least seven metres. He went on to make the same error, which almost cost his side a penalty.

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