Panthers keep Eels winless in NRL

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Penrith winger Josh Mansour has scored a try in his side’s 12-6 NRL win over Parramatta.A gutsy Penrith have consigned Parramatta to their fifth straight loss to start the NRL season, holding on to beat them 12-6 at ANZ Stadium.
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After leading 10-0 at halftime on Sunday, Panthers coach Anthony Griffin credited the best defensive effort he’d seen in “a long while” to leave his side third on the ladder.

Parramatta were a far more improved side from the one that conceded 122 points in the opening four rounds, but their attack still desperately lacked polish despite set after set on Penrith’s line.

It’s resulted in their worst start to a season since 1991, leaving them alone at the bottom of the ladder and needing to become the first team since Brisbane in 1999 to recover from a 0-5 start and make the finals.

Still without Clinton Gutherson, Bevan French and Jarryd Hayne, the Eels had 37 play-the-balls inside Penrith’s 20m zone but could score only one try – and even that was from a kick.

“The attitude was good this week. The commitment was great. It’s a bit annoying it hasn’t been there for four weeks,” coach Brad Arthur said.

“We probably bombed two or three opportunities, but at some stage they will stick as long as we stay in the fight.

“There was a couple of opportunities we needed to take in the first half. We dropped the ball with the tryline right open. We score them and it could be the momentum change we need.”

The Eels’ attacking problems were foreshadowed when they couldn’t crack Penrith’s line while Trent Merrin was sin-binned for a professional foul early in the first half.

In contrast, the Panthers made the most of Tim Mannah’s sin-binning later in the opening half, when Josh Mansour ran onto a James Maloney kick in the 21st minute to score Penrith’s only try.

Two penalty goals to Maloney helped the Panthers to their halftime lead before George Jennings finally put the Eels on the board in the 42nd minute when Dylan Edwards and Mansour made a mess of a Mitchell Moses kick.

But after the Eels failed to make the most of their second-half ball, Maloney sunk a late penalty goal to leave one of the most hyped teams of the pre-season as the only winless team after five rounds.

It’s not a position all that different to where Griffin’s Penrith were last year, when they fell from pre-season favourites to a 2-7 start.

“That’s the best (defensive effort) I can think of for a long while, particularly against a desperate side,” Griffin said.

“They had heaps more ball than us in the second half and better field position. We had to win it that way, we weren’t going to win it the other way.”

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