Penrith have powered to their second Holden Cup premiership in three years, downing Manly 34-18 at ANZ Stadium this afternoon.
The match was close until mid-way through the second half, but the quality of the minor premiers showed late in the game with the Panthers able to set up a commanding lead.
A late Sea Eagles try gave them some hope, but Penrith had done enough to win and scored in the 77th minute to confirm victory.
The Panthers won the Holden Cup Grand Final in 2013 and today again showed off the club’s tremendous junior nursery.
Penrith has now had lower grade success in three consecutive years, with the Holden Cup in 2013 and 2015 and the NSW Cup in 2014.
Today’s Grand Final was played in sweltering conditions at ANZ Stadium, with the Panthers never surrendering their lead after scoring the first try of the game inside five minutes through Soni Luke.
The Panthers managed to hold on late in the game despite losing Robert Jennings to a serious ankle injury and the team’s big forward pack struggling in the conditions.
Penrith captain Brent Naden said it was a tremendous feeling.
“I’d like to thank all the boys for putting on a great year – without you boys I wouldn’t be here today,” he said at the post-match presentation.
“It’s the best feeling ever… it’s just unreal,” he told Fox Sports earlier.
“The injuries started creeping into our game in the second half but the boys dug deep and kept putting in for each other.”
Making Penrith’s win even more impressive is the fact that it is Cameron Ciraldo’s first year as a Holden Cup coach.
NRL Grand Final day continues at ANZ Stadium with the Broncos and Cowboys playing in first grade later tonight.