NRL: Matt Moylan has last laugh over Panthers as Sharks claim win in Penrith

  • 13/07/2018

Matt Moylan enjoyed the last laugh at Panthers Stadium while giving Cronulla's top-four hopes a significant boost with a 24-12 win over former club Penrith.

Once the golden child of Penrith's young brigade of talent, Moylan was booed from the moment he entered the field to the fulltime siren by the majority of 11,742 fans on Friday night.

But it did little to hinder his performance as he scored his first try in Cronulla colours and then put Valentine Holmes away to seal the win with four minutes left.

After Penrith trailed 12-2 at halftime and hit back through Waqa Blake after the break, Moylan ran onto a Scott Sorensen inside ball for an 18-6 lead.

Penrith hit back through Corey Harawira-Naera with 11 minutes to play, but Moylan ended any hopes of a comeback when he dummied and sliced his way through from within his own half to put Holmes over.

He finished the game with 105 metres and five tackle busts, enough to potentially force his old club out of the top four for the first time since round three if the Sydney Roosters win well over the Gold Coast on Sunday.

The win also moves the Sharks level with Penrith on 24 points, but still behind on for-and-against as part of a six-team logjam between third and eighth separated by only one win.

In a heated affair that saw Andrew Fifita push Penrith's Jack Hetherington up the tunnel at halftime, Penrith scored the opening points through a penalty goal before Sione Katoa got Cronulla's first try.

Moylan then had his first serious impact, providing a short ball for Wade Graham who turned it back inside for Holmes to have his first try in the 34th minute.

Meanwhile young Penrith halfback Jarome Luai was again impressive in just his second game in the No.7 jersey, as the Panthers rested State of Origin stars Nathan Cleary, James Maloney and Tyrone Peachey.

He laid on the try for Blake when he stepped to get outside of opposing number Chad Townsend to create space for his second, and could have had another assist had Christian Crichton not fumbled a kick to score late.

He also pulled off a try-saver on Sharks utility Kurt Capewell early in the second half, tackling him hard to dislodge the ball as he went to dive over in the corner.

Rookie fullback Caleb Aiekins also ran 278 metres on debut, while James Tamou and Viliame Kikau were damaging through the middle.