The embarrassment of Penrith’s round one humiliation was a distant memory on Friday night as the Panthers stunned Parramatta in a 20-6 NRL upset.
Crushed 42-8 by Newcastle on their home turf only last Sunday, Penrith found form in the short trip down the M4, running in three tries to one.
The Panthers were never headed as they jumped out of the gate with an early David Simmons try, halfback Luke Walsh the perfect puppeteer with a sublime kicking game as Lachlan Coote and Michael Jennings found a spark that wasn’t there in round one.
Coote and Michael Gordon scored the other four-pointers for the visitors either side of halftime, with Parramatta’s solo effort coming via Matt Keating nine minutes from time as he capitalised on a Jarryd Hayne offload.
As striking as Penrith’s turnaround was, it was shaded by Parramatta’s sudden loss of form – the promise of a new era under coach Stephen Kearney evaporating in a drab 80-minute display.
It wasn’t until the 11th minute that Parramatta had possession in the opposition half and by that stage they were already down 6-0 after Jennings got on the outside of rookie centre Ryan Morgan to set up Simmons.
Errors that weren’t there in last week’s win over the Warriors crippled any chance the Eels had of pressuring Penrith.
And the visitors made them pay as Walsh put on a deft short ball for a trailing Coote to make it 10-0 just after the half hour.
Parramatta’s chances of getting back into the contest appeared near hopeless when an errant Hayne pass was swooped on by Gordon who raced 50 metres to score.
Whatever hope they may have was gone when Gordon added a pair of penalty goals to extend the lead to beyond three converted tries before Keating’s late salvo finally gave the home fans something to cheer about.