Penrith has unearthed another star of the future in Charlie Staines, with the debutant scoring four tries in the Panthers 56-24 NRL demolition of Cronulla.
Playing for injured Dean Whare, the 19-year-old also added a try assist for good measure to spark the Panthers to their biggest win of the season.
Ivan Cleary’s side temporarily jump over Parramatta to top spot, with the Eels a chance of reclaiming pole position on Sunday when they face Newcastle.
The Sharks’ lopsided defeat not only snaps a three-game winning streak, but is also the heaviest under second-year coach John Morris.
The Panthers ran in a mammoth 10 tries, including two to another rookie in centre Stephen Crichton, while Nathan Cleary kicked seven goals.
The signs were ominous for Cronulla the moment Penrith centre Brent Naden strolled over in just the fourth minute.
Liam Martin and Crichton crossed for soft tries soon after, before Staines flashed his potential on back-to-back possessions.
The Forbes’ product pointed straight at his home-town fans in the northwest corner of the ground when he claimed his maiden try in the 24th minute.
But that was just a preview of his next contribution, bursting down the right touchline on the return set and sending Dylan Edwards to score.
When Crichton crossed, the Panthers were racing the clock at 26-0, off the back of a dominant 76 per cent possession rate and a whopping 19-7 advantage in sets.
Cronulla eventually found its bearings late in the half, with Briton Nikora and Blayke Brailey reducing the deficit to 14 points at the break.
Staines ensured there was no second-half comeback when he scored off a Naden tapback, sending his mates, who had moved corners, into a frenzy.
Not even the sin-binning of James Tamou could halt the Panthers’ attack, with Billy Burns crossing despite being down to 12 men.
Jesse Ramien and Nene Macdonald, in his first match for the Sharks, added some respectability to the scoreline, before Staines completed his quadruple.
Compounding the loss for the Sharks is a suspected hamstring injury to Andrew Fifita, who failed to take the field in the second half.
Broncos beat Bulldogs in battle of the cellar-dwellers
A knee injury to captain Alex Glenn has soured Brisbane’s drought-breaking 26-8 NRL win over last-placed Canterbury.
It wasn’t pretty on Saturday evening but the Broncos finally snapped their six-game losing streak, notching their first win since March 20 and ending an agonising 113-day wait for long-suffering fans.
Motivated by the thought that yet another loss would relegate them to last on the table, the Broncos did enough in a clanger-fuelled clash in front of 7,134 fans.
Glenn limped off in the 54th minute with a suspected medial ligament injury after an ugly tackle by Bulldogs centre Reimis Smith.
He was placed on report for a cannonball tackle after spearing into the former Kiwi international’s leg as the third man in.
In a match, billed as a battle for the wooden spoon, Brisbane — sitting 15th on the ladder — took on the bottom-placed Bulldogs and it showed in an error-riddled affair.
At times, the teams didn’t look like they knew how to play, let alone win, with the clash sometimes farcical due to the amount of dropped ball.
There were 24 errors with Brisbane committing 13.
In the end, inspirational prop Tevita Pangai and five-eighth Anthony Milford’s kicking game proved the difference as the Bulldogs suffered their fifth-straight loss.