Panthers stun Eels with second-half surge


The Penrith Panthers produced an exhilarating second-half turnaround to beat the Parramatta Eels 22-18 and put a huge dent in their Western Sydney rivals' NRL top-eight chances.

Wracked with injury and still licking their wounds after a 12-point penalty for salary-cap breaches was confirmed, the Eels' equation pre-match was simple, effectively requiring wins from each of their remaining matches to close on the top eight.

The superb Clint Gutherson assisted two and scored a try of his own as the Eels made an electric start to the contest at Pepper Stadium, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard's solitary score all the Panthers had to show for a testing first half.

Origin centre Michael Jennings had played a crucial role in Gutherson's try but his withdrawal with a hamstring injury opened up gaps in the visiting defence, which were ruthlessly exposed.

Bevan French had crossed shortly before the hooter to put Parramatta 18-6 to the good, but Penrith roared back and were back to within two points just eight minutes into the second half as Tyrone Peachey and Bryce Cartwright touched down.

Peachey was again involved as Josh Mansour raced to the corner and handed the Panthers the lead for the first time after 54 minutes, with a tiring Parramatta side unable to find a response.

Melbourne Storm just held off the NRL ladder's bottom side Newcastle Knights 20-16 in Sunday's early game to go top of the standings.

The Knights' losing streak now stands at 11 games, but they were not without their chances against a sloppy Storm side, boosted by the return of star names such as Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.

Marika Koroibete scored twice for the Storm before limping off with injury, while the Knights' late attempted comeback - powered by Jake Mamo's second score - will give visiting coach Craig Bellamy plenty to ponder in the final weeks of the regular season.