Photo: Robb Cox (c) NRL Photos

Panthers thump young Eels

The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side has been thumped 42-4 by the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Pirtek Stadium.

The Blue and Gold were without Captain Denzal Tonise as Dean Matterson stepped in as starting hooker, with Faimanifo Seve joining the interchange bench.

And with the Eels sitting second on the Holden Cup ladder after four rounds, the opening 40 minutes didn’t disappoint, before the Panthers ran away with the clash in the second half as the Eels played on without starting fullback Bevan French, who left the field injured at halftime.

Both sides muscled up in defence in the opening 40 minutes, as the Eels repelled set after set of Panthers attack, forcing their own repeat sets but unable to force their way across the line.

It took almost 22 minutes for the Eels to break the point-scoring drought, as halfback Troy Dargan laid on a neat left-foot step to send a flat offload to fullback Bevan French to score the first try of the game. 

In the 31st minute, the Panthers answered back. After being turned back more than once from close range earlier in the game, Liam Martin struck from dummy-half, darting from 10 metres out to score next to the posts. 

And thanks to the clean conversion from halfback Nathan Cleary, the Panthers headed back to the sheds with a 6-4 lead at halftime. 

The reshuffled Eels side struggled defensively in the second half, and the Panthers struck early, with Jack Hetherington just unable to hold onto the ball for a try in opening moments, and fullback Dylan Edwards getting the job done in the 44th minute to extend the Panthers lead.

Edwards made it a double just minutes later with a show and go, spotting the gap in the Eels’ defence and capitalising. 

Winger Jake Ennis followed suit, slipping through on the right edge as well for a 14-point lead. Second-rower Corey Waddell proved to powerful running an inside line, breaking through the Blue and Gold defence to add four points of his own, and Cleary’s pinpoint kicking put the Panthers 30-4 in front. 

And with just over 11 minutes on the clock, as the Panthers kicked deep into Eels territory, the bounce evaded the Blue and Gold's stand-in fullback and Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai swept through chasing, pouncing on the ball to score under the posts. 

A late try to Nathan Cleary put the visitors past the 40-point mark, converting his own try for a resounding 42-4 win.

Eels fullback Bevan French left the field at halftime with an elbow injury, and did not return for the second half of the match.

Penrith Panthers - 42 (Martin, Edwards 2, Ennis, Waddell, Luai, Cleary. Cleary: 7/7)

Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 4 (French. Dargan: 0/1)