Injuries strike as Sea Eagles stun the Panthers
PENRITH'S premiership hopes have taken another hit after it suffered an 18-10 loss to the 14th-placed Sea Eagles at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
It was a professional foul from Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary that turned the game.
With the scores locked at 10-all with 15 minutes remaining, the NSW playmaker was sent to the sin bin for the first time in his career after he tackled Daly Cherry-Evans without the ball.
The Sea Eagles opted to take the penalty goal and Trent Hodkinson slotted the two points to give the away side the lead.
Moments later Hodkinson scored the winning try when he accepted a spectacular offload from Jake Trbojevic to give the Sea Eagles their fifth win of the season.
Not only did the Panthers suffer consecutive losses for the first time this season, it was their first defeat at Panthers Stadium in 307 days.
They also suffered a giant blow when Fijian forward Viliame Kikau left the field with a nasty knee injury with five minutes remaining.
Sea Eagles playmaker Dylan Walker's horror injury run continued when he also injured his left knee early in the second half.
He was playing his first game in seven weeks after recovering from a broken jaw.
Sea Eagles winger Matt Wright scored a minute into the second half, but it came at a cost with the winger injuring his shoulder as he spectacularly dived in the corner.
With a dozen players backing up from last weekend's representative round, both sides looked rusty and handling errors marred the 80 minutes. The home side completed at just 68 per cent, and the Sea Eagles at 71.
After an early James Maloney penalty goal, it was Manly who crossed for the first four-pointer when back-rower Joel Thompson barged his way over after 11 minutes.
The Panthers should have levelled up three minutes later, but Tyrone Phillips's left boot hit the sideline after a wayward pass from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
They eventually hit back in the 35th minute when Sione Katoa put Dallin Watene-Zelezniak into a hole and the in-form fullback slammed the ball down for an 8-6 lead.
It looked like the Sea Eagles would take a lead into half-time when Brad Parker crossed in the corner, but the Bunker deemed Shaun Lane had obstructed Maloney.
But the afternoon belonged to the Sea Eagles, who recorded their first win in Penrith since 2011.
MANLY 18 (T Hodkinson J Thompson M Wright tries T Hodkinson 2 D Cherry-Evans goals) bt PENRITH 10 (D Watene-Zelezniak try J Maloney 3 goals) at Panthers Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Matt Noyen. Crowd: 12,755.