A first-half double from rookie Brian To’o has inspired Penrith to a 40-18 rout of St George Illawarra and extend their NRL winning streak to seven.
A week after producing an acrobatic brace over Gold Coast, To’o again lit up Panthers Stadium with another double on Friday night.
Centre Brent Naden also nabbed a pair in a contest that was separated by just four points at halftime and seemingly headed for a dogfight.
But the home side turned on the afterburners with a four-try, 16-minute blitz in the second half to leave the Dragons’ campaign in tatters.
Moses Leota, Nathan Cleary and Reagan Campbell-Gillard also scored as the Panthers improved their for-and-against and improved to seventh on the ladder.
Penrith is also now within two points of third-placed Canberra, who it faces next week ain an attempt to equal a club-record eighth straight victory.
It was easily the best attacking display of the season for Ivan Cleary’s side, obliterating their previous season-high of 24 points registered just last week.
More importantly, halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney _ combining for just the third time during their run – had their attack humming from the kick-off.
The NSW State of Origin duo set up four tries and four line breaks between them.
Naden looked to have posted opening points in the corner but was denied by a desperate Matt Dufty, who was penalised for a shoulder charge.
Penrith didn’t have to wait long to draw first blood however, with To’o producing his first display of acrobatics with his aerial plant of a Maloney kick.
Naden eventually got his first try not long after.
St George Illawarra responded through Mikaele Ravalawa, and took a shock lead when Josh Kerr strolled through in the 35th minute.