FW2 Match Report | Knights v Panthers
The Newcastle Knights continued their blistering run of form by knocking the Penrith Panthers out of the competition with a 44-12 victory.
In what was the 2014 VB NSW Cup Grand Final rematch, the Knights finally got their long-awaited revenge to deny the defending premiers a chance to go back-to-back.
The Panthers were boosted by the late inclusion of Will Smith, while Knights regular halfback Jaelen Feeney was a late withdrawal due to illness.
Jake Mamo was outstanding for the Knights with three tries and a try assist, two of which will come into contention for try of the year.
The Panthers got off to a rough start, failing to complete their opening four sets as they lacked any go-forward.
The Knights began the game with three errors, but managed to score first after Ken Tofilau plucked a pinpoint Carlos Tuimavave cross-field kick out of the air to plant the ball down.
The Panthers immediately responded through Kieran Moss, who was lingering in support of a left-side linebreak to lock the scores up at 6-all after Will Smith converted.
Smith’s boot assisted them again in the following set when he forced a dropout from halfway, but could not crack the Knights defence despite securing another repeat set immediately afterwards.
Honeti Tuha crossed for the Knights in the left corner 28 minutes into the game, but the Nathan Ross pass in the lead up was ruled to have gone forward.
Jake Mamo put the ball down in the exact same spot with three minutes remaining in the half thanks to a strong run and offload by Lachlan Fitzgibbon to increase their lead to 10-6, which was the halftime score.
A polished opening to the second half by the Knights led to Mamo’s second try of the afternoon, after some outstanding work by Marvin Filipo to break the line and offload to the try scorer.
Kerrod Holland increased the Knights' lead to 20-6 just five minutes later, after he plucked another cross-field out of the air to successfully plant the ball down.
Tuha continued the Knights' onslaught three minutes later after he intercepted a wayward offload on halfway and ran away to score, despite a courageous chase by Smith.
One of the tries of the year immediately followed. George Ndaira busted through the line and threw an optimistic offload to Mamo, who sprinted away and put in a perfect chip for Holland to re-gather and score under the posts.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon increased the Knights' lead to 36-6 after he charged onto a short ball, before the Panthers attempted a short kickoff and kicked it out on the full.
Mamo almost topped his previous effort with eight minutes remaining after floating sideways past various defenders, before bursting through and beating even more players to use strength and skill to find his way to the line.
A penalty goal to the Knights increased their lead to 44-6, before a short kick off was re-gathered by Brendan Attwood, who then burst away and offloaded for Malakai Watene-Zelezniak to score a consolation try just short of the buzzer.
That try meant the final score was 44-12, which advances the Knights into next weeks preliminary final against Mounties.
Newcastle Knights 44 (J Mamo 3, K Holland 2, H Tuha, K Tofilan, L Fitzgibbon tries; G Ndaira 6 goals) bt Penrith Panthers 12 (K Moss, M Watene-Zelezniak tries; W Smith 2 goals)