Penrith have roared into second spot on the NRL ladder with an impressive 35-12 win over Gold Coast at Panthers Stadium.
Makeshift centre Corey Harawira-Naeara and halfback James Maloney were the standouts as Penrith cruised to their fifth win of the season and their third straight without Nathan Cleary.
Harawira-Naeara scored two tries while Maloney was involved in everything in another dominant display.
It wasn’t all good news for Penrith with winger Josh Mansour leaving the field in the second half with a suspected broken cheekbone.
With Mansour likely to be missing for several weeks, Penrith will try to rush Dallin Watene-Zelezniak back from injury a week early for next week’s game against Cronulla.
The Panthers went down 6-0 early this afternoon and seemed out of sorts for most of the first half, but managed to wrestle a 10-6 lead out of the first 40 minutes.
Dylan Edwards scored off a James Maloney break early in the second half, opening the floodgates for the Panthers who piled on three more tries.
Penrith coach Anthony Griffin praised Maloney for another five star performance.
“He’s running our game. We were a little frantic early but he is a calming influence on the rest of the side,” he said.
“The more ball we got in the second half the simpler our approach became. He lead us around the park really well.
“He is really calm under pressure… he knows how to organise his attack and his kicking game.”
Griffin said he was happy with where his side stands six games into the season.
“It’s a good reward for all the work they’ve put in but we’re only a quarter of the way through the season,” he said.
“The players have worked extremely hard and we’ve overcome a few obstacles… we’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor.