Match report by Matthew Miles
Things didn’t get off to a great start for the visitors. As with a lot of clubs in this league this season, fielding the minimum 15 players proved too big a hurdle for Manchester with only 14 available against Penrith’s 15.
Early Manchester progress was hampered by handling errors and things took a turn for the worse when Chucky went down with an ankle injury which, despite brave efforts by him to soldier on, ended his afternoon’s work.
With the match now continuing with 14 against 13, Manchester struggled to readjust and Penrtih plundered the first points with an unconverted try after 13 minutes.
With Manchester struggling for any continuity, Penrith extended their lead with another try after 19 minutes. This time, the home side gratefully accepted the 2 extra points to make it 12-0.
Penrith were now rampant and breeched the visitors defence once more before halftime to make it 17-0.
A man down and a mountain to climb, Manchester came out for the second half with new resolve. Gone were the missed tackles and handling errors of the first period with Luke spotting a gap in Penrith’s defence, he managed to run through from 20 metres out. Try! 41 minutes on the clock and 17-5 (conversion missed).
With Manchester now in the ascendancy, Penrith displayed some first class defending to hold out in their own 22 for long periods of the second half so much so that they were rewarded with another try after a rare second half foray into the visitor’s territory. Try and conversion after 55 minutes to make it 24-5.
But there was a chink of light for Manchester, after more pressure in front of the Penrith try line, the home team had a player yellow carded. This galvanised Manchester and Luke scored another try after a weaving run. Try converted to make it 24-12 after 64 minutes.
Penrith now had to contend with wave after wave of Manchester attacks and the pressure began to tell with Dan touching down after a mistake from the home team’s line out just in front of their try line. The conversion made it 24-19 with 12 minutes remaining.
With Manchester’s forwards now looking dominant, Penrith were clinging on. Harry cut loose with a run that took him from half way and deep into the home side’s 22. The impossible was looking probable but, with one more man to beat, Harry was hauled to the ground and Penrith won the match by a score.
The Penrith defence proved to be a very tough nut to crack and they deserved their victory thanks to a one-sided first half. That’s not to say that Manchester don’t deserve a lot of credit for their performance. Playing the match with one less player and the disruption caused by Chucky’s injury may be mitigating factors. However, it’s the second half fight back that will live long in the memory along with the home side’s warm hospitality.
More importantly, the visitors won the after-match ‘boat race’ but, unfortunately, this is unlikely to register on the end of season league standings.