Penrith has snapped a five game losing streak with an emphatic 44-12 thrashing of arch rivals Parramatta at Penrith Stadium.
Halfback Luke Walsh produced his best game since his breakout 2010 season, having a hand in nearly all of the Panthers’ tries, kicking a superb 40/20 at a crucial stage and completely dominating his opposite number in Chris Sandow.
Scrappy at times, the Panthers took an eight point lead into half-time and didn’t concede a point in the second stanza as they clocked up their second biggest win ever over the Eels.
Penrith were on the front foot from the opening minutes, opening the scoring in their first set of the match, with Travis Robinson taking a 20 metre tap and running 80 metres untouched to score.
Remarkably, Penrith were on the board before being tackled once in the match.
The Eels levelled the game at 6-all in the 13th minute when Jarryd Hayne took advantage of an overlap out wide, but Penrith extended their lead when Walsh and debutant Matt Moylan combined to send David Simmons over in the corner.
Just minutes later, James Segeyaro made an impact with his first touch of the match, leaving Jarryd Hayne bedazzled as he crossed under the posts.
Up 16-6, Penrith were looking dominant, but the Eels snuck back into the game with a controversial try to Vai Toutai, the video referee over-ruling the on-field officials, who had declared ‘no try’.
The Panthers dealt the Eels a major blow just before half time when Travis Robinson scored his second of the night, and when Segeyaro scored secured his double 13 minutes into the second half off a superb scrum play, victory looked certain.
Dean Whare bagged his first try for the Panthers to put the score out to 32-12, and two late tries – both orchestrated by Walsh’s pinpoint kicking game – saw the margin blow out even further.
Walsh’s first game since the Panthers announced the signing of Jamie Soward was superb – proving that he may well be the new recruit’s partner in the halves next year after all.
But it was hard to fault anyone on the park for the Panthers – David Simmons had his best game of the season, Lewis Brown and Dean Whare appeared much more comfortable in the centres, and Matt Robinson was agile and strong in the second row.
Moylan’s debut was strong – the youngster took several difficult bombs and even got himself on the scoring sheet with the final conversion of the night.
Segeyaro proved he could be the buy of the season – again producing a performance full of dynamic runs and adding spark when it was needed most. The fact that he scored a try within seconds of coming onto the field late in the first half shows the difference he can make on the field.
The victory was far from faultless but it will give the Panthers enormous confidence heading into a gauntlet fortnight against powerhouse clubs the Roosters and Storm.
For the Eels, the 44-12 loss was compounded by what appeared to be a very serious leg injury to forward Tim Mannah, who was carried from the field in the second half.
Earlier, the Panthers defeated the Eels in the Holden Cup to keep their unbeaten start to the season alive.
Penrith 44 (Tries: Travis Robinson 2, David Simmons 2, James Segeyaro 2, Lewis Brown, Dean Whare. Goals: Luke Walsh 5, Matt Moylan 1) def Parramatta 12 (Tries: Jarryd Hayne, Vai Toutai. Goals: Chris Sandow 2). Crowd: 14, 211.