Scoring a try on debut is a dream for any NRL rookie, but Penrith Panthers prodigy Charlie Staines wasn’t content with just the one.
Playing in his first class debut, Staines recorded four tries and a try assist in a masterclass performance during Saturday’s convincing 56-24 victory over the Cronulla Sharks in Sydney.
The 19-year-old became the first debutant to score four tries on NRL debut since Jordan Atkins achieved the impressive feat for the Gold Coast Titans in 2008.
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The Panthers raced to a 16-0 lead at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, and were threatening to inflict further damage as they secured multiple set restarts inside the Sharks’ 20 metres.
As Penrith spread the ball towards the right wing, fullback Dylan Edwards fired a precise pass into the debutant’s chest, who sprinted through to score his first try in the NRL.
Staines immediately jumped to his feet, pointing to a cluster of mates on the sidelines as he was mobbed by ecstatic teammates.
Incredible!!! How about the speed from Staines ⚡#NRLSharksPanthers 0-26 after 30 mins. #TelstraPremiership pic.twitter.com/I11yIz1Kzr
Geez the @PenrithPanthers look like a very happy club at the moment.
The way Charlie Staines’ teammates mobbed him after his first @NRL try was bloody awesome to see 🙌🏼 #NRLSharksPanthers
But the teenager wasn’t done there, not by any means — two minutes later, Staines was given some space near the touchline in his own half, and with lightning pace sprinted 40 metres before passing back inside towards Edwards who dived over near the posts.
Just like that, the Panthers were ahead by 26 having managed five tries in 25 minutes. It was the most points Penrith had recorded in the first half of an NRL match since 2016.
“How good is this kid?” Fox League commentator Warren Smith cried.
“It’s the greatest show of turf!
“How good can it get?”
Although the Sharks ended the first half with consecutive tries, a Panthers victory was never in doubt.
Penrith playmaker Nathan Cleary chipped the ball towards the right wing in the 45th minute, and after a classy tap-back from Brent Naden, it fell into the hands of Edwards. With plenty of open space, the fullback passed it out towars Staines who scored his second try of the day.
The rookie’s mates had migrated to the other end of the field at halftime, so the posse was once again in the box seat to watch their friend dive over.
“Charlie Staines has had the dream debut, the absolute dream debut,” Sydney Roosters great Braith Anasta said in commentary.
Charlie Staines registered five involvements in an unforgettable NRL debut.Source:News Corp Australia
In the final ten minutes, Tyron May floated the ball over Cronulla’s defensive line towards Staines on the right wing, who ran through for his third try.
“He’s got a smile like a split watermelon, and why wouldn’t you,” Smith yelled.
“He has looked every bit the part.”
The icing on the cake came right before the buzzer, when Brent Naden’s sneaky flick pass found Staines near the touchline, who burst through a tackle to dive over once again. He couldn’t resist offering his mates another cheeky smile as he got to his feet.
“Can you believe it?” Smith yelled.
“The 19-year-old from central western New South Wales has four tries on debut!”
Staines finished the game with 16 points, 158 run metres and four line breaks.
That’s pretty special for Charlie Staines.
The 19-year-old Forbes, #Group11, and @WesternRams junior has scored a hat-trick in his NRL debut for the @PenrithPanthers.
By my maths Charlie Staines just the fourth player in history to score four on debut. And second in the NRL era behind Jordan Atkins. #NRLSharksPanthers
Nothing excites me more than seeing a young kid have a really good game on debut. On ya Staines! @PenrithPanthers back to that early game form! #NRL #NRLSharksPanthers
Staines was signed by the Panthers as a development player during the off-season, but wasn’t eligible to make his NRL debut until June 30th. Eleven days later, the Forbes star has cemented himself as one of the competition’s most exciting prospects.
“To play this weekend was a dream come true,” Staines told Fox League after the match.
“I’m lost for words.
“One try is great; four tries is unreal.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary will need to decide whether Staines should stay on the wing when 154-game veteran Dean Whare recovers from a toe injury.
The Panthers went on to win the one-sided encounter by 32 points, pushing themselves into top spot on the NRL ladder. Meanwhile, the Sharks slip out of the top eight after winning their three previous matches.
Saturday’s match was also the first instance in NRL history where the Panthers scored 56 points in a match against the Sharks.
For their round ten fixture, Penrith will face the North Queensland Cowboys next Sunday afternoon.
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