Penrith have outgunned Manly 34-18 to take out their second under-20s premiership in three years on the NRL’s grand final day.
The temperature almost hit 35 degrees but it was the Panthers who applied the heat, jumping out to a 12-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes and then keeping the Sea Eagles at arm’s length for the rest of the decider.
Twice, the pre-match favourites withheld Manly raids.
First a try to Manly second-rower Luke Garner in the shadows of halftime cut the deficit to four points, but the Panthers regained the ascendency by again crossing for the first two tries in the second half.
Sea Eagles prop Liam Knight gave his team some hope with a clean line break in the 72nd minute, but Penrith held firm again to deliver coach Cameron Ciraldo a trophy in his first season as a coach.
Penrith led 16-12 at the main break but should’ve been in front by more after controlling most of the first half.
Direct running from Soni Luke and Tyrone May gave the Panthers a two-try advantage inside the opening quarter, before Manly star Tom Trbojevic hit back with his 29th try in a combined 22 NRL and under-20s games.
Penrith’s own NRL graduate, Robert Jennings, restored the double-digit margin, only for Garner to pull it back again in the 37th.
Panthers centre Maliko Filino took the lead out to 22-12, before halfback Jarome Luai came up with the try of the match with a Shaun Johnson-like individual effort in the 60th minute.
With regular halves partner Nathan Cleary away on Australian Schoolboys duty, Luai also saved a certain try nine minutes later.
Penrith winger Fuimanu Enese sealed the win in the 77th minute.