Liam Martin wasn’t even named in Penrith’s team for tonight’s game against Manly but he ended up playing a starring role in the side’s 15-12 victory.
A late replacement for an ill Viliame Kikau, Martin scored a try and set up another in a breakout performance from the rookie forward.
Penrith showed plenty of intent and enthusiasm in a match played in freezing conditions at Panthers Stadium.
The Panthers led 9-0 at half-time thanks to a Dylan Edwards try that had the small but vocal crowd out of their seats.
The lead was extended to 15-0 when Martin grabbed a loose ball to score, but the Sea Eagles scored two late tries to set up a thrilling finish.
It all came down to the last seconds of the game – Isaah Yeo defused a high bomb to ensure Penrith would win back to back games for the first time this season.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was happy with securing back to back wins for the first time this season.
“It’s been nice to get the wins – I am pretty sure our best footy is still in front of us,” he said.
“We’ll take it and look forward to next week.”
Cleary confirmed that Kikau was ruled out at 8.30 this morning after failing to overcome the flu.
“Liam actually played NSW Cup last Sunday so it was only a four-day turnaround. He was terrific tonight,” he said.
“When I rang him tonight I could hear it in his voice how excited he was.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.