The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have been outclassed by the Penrith Panthers 38-12 at Sportingbet Stadium, in a night that saw both Darcy Lussick and Nathan Peats leave the field under an injury cloud.
Taking to the field without usual starting fullback Jarryd Hayne and centre Willie Tonga, the Blue and Gold were on the back foot early in the first half, gifting the Panthers possession with a handling error.
Josh Mansour opened the scoring for the Panthers, collecting a grubber kick to score in the corner. Struggling with ball control and confronted with a wave of Panthers possession, the Eels held out repeat sets until hooker James Segeyaro finally snuck through to extend the lead.
Prop Darcy Lussick left the field early with a suspected bruised kneecap, and although the Eels showed sparks of their 2014 attack, they were unable to put points on the scoreboard.
Th Eels defence knocked the ball loose from opposition fullback Matt Moylan’s hands to avoid an almost-certain try, but for the high knock gave the Panthers a penalty, and Soward slotted the penalty goal.
The Panthers headed into halftime with a Tyrone Peachey effort extending their lead to 18-0, and the Eels' disappointment continued in the second half, losing hooker Nathan Peats for the night with a knee complaint.
The Eels found a spark through interchange forward Pauli Pauli, barging over the Blue and Gold’s first try of the night, while Corey Norman snatched a Brent Kite pass for a long-range intercept try. But late four-pointers to Soward and Mansour blew the scoreline to 38-12 to the Penrith Panthers.
Mitch Allgood was placed on report for a lifting tackle in the second half on Josh Mansour.
Penrith Panthers - 38 (Mansour 2, Peachey 2, Segeyaro, Yeo, Soward. Soward: 4/7. Penalty Goal: 1/1 Soward.)
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 12 (Pauli, Norman. Sandow: 2/2)