By Jamie Anderson at Allianz Stadium
The Penrith Panthers claimed the 2014 VB NSW Cup Premiership with a thoroughly dominant 48-12 win over the Newcastle Knights at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After sweeping all before them in the regular season, the Panthers turned what was anticipated by most to be a tight affair into a one sided display of brilliant attack and resilient defence.
Prior to the match it was confirmed that Michael Dobson had succumb to a foot injury suffered in the Knights win over the Cutters in the Preliminary Final while the Panthers were boosted by the late inclusion of two former Knights in both Kevin Naiqama and Sam Anderson.
And the men from the west wasted no time in posting the first points when Isaah Yeo, who would later leave the game injured, made a break and then had his pick of a number of team mates looming in support and decided to give it to Luke Capewell on his inside.
The Knights managed to equalise though in the 10th minute when Matt Minto crossed out wide, and after the try was referred to the video referee, it was deemed that Minto had controlled the ball throughout to score.
In the 20th minute, it was once again Yeo and Capewell combining for the Panthers, however this time it was Capewell who gave the pass to Yeo to score and with Wes Naiqama’s conversion, the Panthers had re-established their six point lead.
The Knights were looking a little bit lost without Dobson steering them around the park, and despite having a number of senior players in their squad, the playing group were looking a little overawed by the occasion.
In the 24th minute Kieran Moss would cross for his first of three tries when he loomed up inside Waqa Blake who in turn popped the pass to Moss and he sprinted clear to score. There was some doubt around the second last pass from Simpkins to Blake with the touch judge appearing to stop to mark the spot where the ball was first passed however the play carried on and was ultimately awarded.
Despite the conjecture around the Panthers third try, they were by far the best side on the park and a further first half try to Eto Nabuli in the shadows of the half time siren saw the Panthers take a very handy 24-6 lead into the break.
Any hopes of a Newcastle fight back were thwarted in the 54th minute when a Tom Humble kick was not really contested by anyone and then Waqa Blake came through to claim it and score the Panthers fifth of the match.
The Knights gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 60th minute when Paterika Vaivai scored after a determined run close to the Panthers line saw the margin cut back to 18 points with as many minutes remaining.
But back to back tries to Moss in the 68th and 72nd minute respectively and a final try to Ryan Simpkins saw the Panthers put an exclamation mark on what could only be described as a thoroughly dominant season by the men in black.
Kieran Moss was named man of the match but in fairness it could have been anyone of a number of Panthers players on the day.
The Panthers will now represent the VB NSW Cup in this Sunday’s NRL State Championship when they tackle the Intrust Super Cup Premiers, the Northern Pride, prior to the NRL Grand Final at Allianz Stadium.
There would have to be a question mark over the availability of Isaah Yeo heading into Sunday but they will be able to call upon Ben Murdoch-Masila who has now finished with the Panthers NRL side following their elimination on Saturday night.
Penrith Panthers 48 (K Moss 3, E Nabuli, L Capewell, W Blake, I Yeo, R Simpkins tries; W Naiqama 7, K Kingston goals) def. Newcastle Knights 12 (P Vaivai, M Minto tries; J Mantellato 2 goals)